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Copyright 1991 

North Carolina Museum of Art 
Raleigh, North Carolina 
All rights reserved 
ISSN 0029-2567 
LC 64-3282 
Published annually, 
one volume per year, 
$4 per issue 

North Carolina Museum of Art 
2110 Blue Badge Road 
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607 
(919) 833-1935 


Pierre-Jacques Volaire (172.9-180^), 
Eruption of Vesuvius, c. 1777-80. 
Oil on canvas, 53/, x 89 in. 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 
Purchased with funds from the 
Alcy C. Kendrick Bequest and the 
State of North Carolina. 82.1 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin 

Volume XV, ippi 

2 "The most wonderful sight in Nature": 

Volaire's Eruption of Vesuvius, 
commissioned by Henry Blundell 

Edgar Peters Bowron 

14 Two Views by Bernardo Bellotto: 

View of Dresden with the Frauenkirche at Left and 
View of Dresden with the Hofkirche at Right 

William Barcham 

30 To Be "Conspecuous in the Croud": 

John Singleton Copley's Sir William Pepperrell 
and His Family 

Margaretta M. Lovell 

44 A Case of Mistaken Identity: 

Thomas Gainsborough's Ralph Bell 

Hugh Belsey 

53 Technical Notes on Gainsborough's Ralph Bell 

David C. Goist 

Raleigh, North Carolina 



JAN 31 1992 


Fig. i 

Pierre-Jacques Volaire (i7Z9-i8o2), 
Eruption of Vesuvius, c. 1777-80. 
Oil on canvas, 53/4 x 89 in., 
signed Le Volaire/ f. at lower left. 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 
Purchased with funds from the 
Alcy C. Kendrick Bequest and the 
State of North Carolina. 82.1 


"The most wonderful sight in Nature": 
Volaire's Eruption of Vesuvius, 
Commissioned by Henry Blundell 

Edgar Peters Bowron 

Pierre-Jacques Volaire's Eruption of Vesuvius 
(fig. i), acquired by the North Carolina Museum of Art in 1982, is an 
exceptionally engrossing work of art. The painting is an imaginative 
record of one of nature's marvels, Vesuvius, the only active volcano 
on the European mainland. 

The late eighteenth century's fascination with nat- 
ural catastrophes included storms, shipwrecks, fires, and earthquakes, 
but Vesuvius occasioned exceptional interest. Tourists from all parts 
of Europe flocked to Naples in the hope of witnessing the dreadful 
spectacle of an eruption. The attraction of Vesuvius was so popular 
late in the century that Goethe remarked on the "excited flurry" of 
Roman tourists hurrying off to Naples when news of an eruption 
arrived in 1787. Most tourists expected to be awed and terrified — 
although at a safe distance — by the volcano. And if they were well- 
read and acquainted with the ideas expressed by the English essayist 
and poet Joseph Addison or Edmund Burke in his Philosophical 
Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, they 
knew that the exhilaration they felt at the sight of Vesuvius was an 
example of the "sublime" — "the strongest emotion which the mind 
is capable of feeling." 1 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


The Eruption of Vesuvius is a vivid example of the 
kind of painting British visitors to Italy on the Grand 
Tour acquired as a souvenir of their travels. Commis- 
sioned in Naples in 1777 by Henry Blundell, a wealthy 
Lancashire landowner who assembled significant collec- 
tions of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture and old 
master paintings, the painting was brought back to his 
house, Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool. Blundell 
might have ordered a view of Vesuvius from any of a 
number of landscape painters resident in Naples — the 
recent exhibitions in Naples and London, In the Shadow 
of Vesuvius, 1 underscore how many Italian and foreign 
artists made the eruptions of Vesuvius a prominent fea- 
ture of their views and topographical renderings of 
Naples and its environs in the eighteenth century — but 
his choice of Volaire was not surprising. It was the 
French painter's ambition to make the volcano his 
stock-in-trade, and few artists equalled his imaginative 
conceptions of the exploding volcano in various for- 
mats. Energetic and prolific, Volaire possessed a natural 
instinct for the dramatic and the theatrical, and he em- 
ployed it to create memorable images of this extraordi- 
nary phenomenon. 

Volaire was born in 1729 into a family of painters in 
Toulon and was probably trained by his father, Jacques, 
the official painter of the city. As a young man he was 
apprenticed to Claude Joseph Vernet, the landscape and 
marine painter, who arrived in Toulon in 1754 with a 
commission from King Louis XV to paint a series of 
canvases depicting the Ports of France (Musee de la 
Marine, Paris). During the course of Volaire's travels 
from one port to another as Vernet's collaborator, he 
developed a style of painting remarkably close to that 
of the older painter. In 1763, when the commission 
was nearing its end, Volaire left Vernet to return to 
Toulon. The following year he traveled to Rome, 
entered the local artists' academy, the Accademia di 
San Luca, and began to paint independent landscapes 
(Shipwreck, 1756, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm). He 
moved to Naples in 1769, where he resided for most 
of the remainder of his life. 3 

In Naples Volaire initially painted seascapes and 
topographical views (Nocturne, 1770, Musee National de 
Palais de Compiegne, Compiegne) in the manner of 
Vernet. By 1771, however, he had established himself as 
a specialist in volcanic eruptions, and he distinguished 
himself from the many other foreign painters in Naples 
with his spectacular scenes of Vesuvius in full eruption 

at night. Although Volaire did not invent the genre 
representing the volcano in moonlight, the violence 
of its eruption and the fiery flows of molten lava con- 
trasting with the cool reflections of the moon on the 
surface of the Bay of Naples, no other painter quite 
matched his treatment of the subject or proved as pop- 
ular with visitors to Naples. 4 Volaire's many depictions 
of Vesuvius — of which more than thirty exist — earned 
him international fame, contributed to the popularity 
of the theme, and influenced the work of other foreign 
painters in Naples like Joseph Wright of Derby (who 
described the volcano as "the most wonderful sight in 
nature"*) and Philipp Hackert. 

Volaire exhibited in 1779, 1783, and 1786 at the 
Salon de la Correspondance in Paris, and in 1784 he 
became correspondent member of the Academy of 
Marseilles. In 1786 he attempted, unsuccessfully, 
through the Comte d'Angiviller, director-general of 
royal buildings in France, to persuade Louis XVI to 
buy one of his views of Vesuvius. His last dated works 
are a Night Scene by the Shore in Naples of 1784 (Palazzo 
Reale, Naples) and an Eruption of Vesuvius of 1785 
(Musee des Beaux Arts, Toulon). He is usually believed 
to have died in Naples before 1802, but he may have 
been the "Voler peintre" who died in 1790 in Lerici, 
near Genoa, following mistreatment by the Neapolitan 
police. 6 

Vesuvius originated during the late Pleistocene 
epoch, probably somewhat less than 200,000 years ago. 
Dormant for centuries, the volcanic mountain burst 
into history with a powerful eruption in a.d. 79 that 
buried the cities of Pompeii and Stabiae under ashes 
and cinders and the city of Herculaneum under a mud- 
flow. The volcano remained active until 1138 or 1139, 
after which there does not seem to have been an 
important eruption for about 500 years. But on 16 
December 1631 Vesuvius reawakened catastrophically, 
destroying the villages of Portici, Resina, and Torre 
del Greco and killing between 3,000 and 18,000 inhabi- 
tants. From this moment the activity of Vesuvius cap- 
tured the imagination of Italian and northern artists (Jan 
Asselyn, Thomas Wick, and Didier Barra) alike and 
entered the repertory of European painting. 


Fig. 1 

Pierre-Jacques Volaire, 
Eruption of Vesuvius (detail), 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

In the eighteenth century, Vesuvius was continu- 
ally violent. The eruption of 1707, during which the 
discharge of ash completely darkened Naples, was 
followed by other important outbursts in 1737, 1751, 
I 754> I 76o, 1766, 1767, 1770, 1776, 1779, 1790, and 1794. 
These extraordinary conflagrations attracted attention 
throughout Europe, and along with the archaeological 
discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompeii, the eruptions 
of Vesuvius became one of the chief tourist attractions 
of Naples. The volcano also drew widespread scientific 
curiosity, although in the eighteenth century the study 
of volcanos was in its infancy. The first "vulcanologi- 
cal" writings of note are those of the Neapolitan physi- 
cian and naturalist Francesco Serao on the eruption of 
1737. The pamphlets and treaties devoted to subsequent 
eruptions became increasingly more sophisticated in 
their scientific method. 

The most influential studies of Vesuvius in the 
eighteenth century were the writings of Sir William 
Hamilton, the diplomat, art collector, and antiquarian 
who arrived at Naples in 1764 as the new British envoy 
to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. During his first 
fifteen years in Naples, Hamilton climbed the slopes of 
Vesuvius 250 times and made nearly sixty inspections 
of the crater. He published his firsthand accounts of the 
volcano's behavior in 1772 as Observations on Mount 
Vesuvius, Mount Etna, and Other Volcanos: In a Series 

of Letters Addressed to the Royal Society, . . . , which was 
reprinted in 1776 with illustrations by Pietro Fabris as 
Campi Phlegraei: Observations on the Volcanos of the Two 
SiciliesJ Hamilton's work was extensively discussed in 
such popular periodicals as the Gentleman's Magazine 
and the Edinburgh Review, and it aroused the curiosity 
of the British in particular to visit Naples and see the 
extraordinary natural phenomenon at first hand. 

Even today Hamilton's compelling accounts pro- 
vide a vivid impression of the awesome and terrible 
"powers of nature" recorded by Volaire: the "most 
dreadful inward grumblings" of the mountain; the vio- 
lent explosions that "seemed as if the mountain would 
split in pieces"; the destructive force of the molten lava, 
which, "notwithstanding [its] consistencey . . . ran with 
amazing velocity; I am sure, the first mile with a rapidi- 
ty equal to that of the River Severn, at the passage near 
Bristol"; the "volcanick bombs" hurled into the air by 
the force of the explosion; and the deadly "ashes, or 
rather small cinders, showered down so fast that people 
were forced to use umbrellas" and covered roofs and 
balconies an inch thick. 8 

What Hamilton described with words, Volaire de- 
picted with paint. This is how Blundell characterized 
the Eruption of Vesuvius in the 1803 catalogue of his col- 

North Carolina Museum of Ait Bulletin, Volume XV, I99I 


This view of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 
which happened in 1769, was painted by Volaire of 
Naples, who was present at the time, and took accu- 
rate drawings of the different scenes which compose 
this picture. Volaire was a pupil of Vernet's, whose 
style of painting he imitated so well, that his pictures 
are esteemed as much as those of his master. The 
confusion of the people in their way from Portici 
to Naples, is well expressed; and the lights of the 
mountain dying gradually upon the vessels, are very 
masterly. No painter ever excelled Volaire in water, 
fire, and moonlight scenes. Many have attempted 
to paint eruptions of Mount Vesuvius; but unless 
they are present at the time of an eruption, such 
paintings must be very imperfect. A duplicate of 
this picture is at Towneley-Hall, which was ordered 
at the same time as this, viz. in 1777. 9 

Volaire shows Vesuvius in full eruption above the 
town of Portici on the eastern shore of the Bay of 
Naples. A white-hot fountain of fire issues from the 
main cone and a fiery stream of lava flows down the 
slopes of the mountain into the town below. Vesuvius's 
second summit, Monte Somma, a ridge that half-encir- 
cles the main cone but is separated from it by a valley, 
is shown prominently at the left edge of the canvas 
(fig. 2). The volcano changed its configuration during 
the various eruptions in the late seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries, so travelers' accounts and visual 
depictions often vary. Volaire, however, represents the 
appearance of the volcano in the 1760s accurately, 
detailing topographical features like the montagnoli, or 
little mountains, formed by the explosion of 1760 
on the descending slope of the mountain above the 
eastern, in the painting, right, edge of the town. 

Portici, whose buildings are illuminated by the light 
of the flames, had become newly fashionable in the 
eighteenth century after King Charles III built a palace 
there in 1738 and the Neapolitan aristocracy established 
their villas and summer palaces in the area. The town 
was frequently threatened by lava flows, however, and 
numerous accounts attest to the constant danger of 
the eruptions in the 1760s and 1770s. Sir William 
Hamilton watched "rivers of fire" streaming down the 
slopes of Vesuvius during the eruption of 1767: "This 
last week exhibited a perpetual scene of horror," 
he writes, "the eruption of Mount Vesuvius having 

continued with great violence. Many fine vineyards 
are destroy'd, but fortunately His Sicilian Majesty's 
palace and the museum at Portici have escaped by the 
lava's having taken another course when it was within 
a mile and a half of them." 10 

The eighteenth-century accounts of the major erup- 
tions report the terror of the inhabitants of the villages 
to the south and east of the capital and their flight to 
the relative safety of Naples. Volaire must have wit- 
nessed many such scenes during the eruptions in the 
1770s, and in the painting includes a procession of per- 
sons, vehicles, and animals hurrying in the middle dis- 
tance along the Strada Regia, the main thoroughfare 
connecting Portici with Naples, approximately five 
miles to the northeast. Scenes of people fleeing for 
shelter over the Sebeto River across the Ponte della 
Maddalena had been painted in Naples since the sev- 
enteenth century, so in showing the frenzied and 
desperate mob of refugees spilling across the bridge, 
Volaire unites both his own on-the-spot observations 
and a traditional theme in Neapolitan painting. 11 

Another feature of the contemporary accounts of 
the eruptions of Vesuvius is the fervent faith of the 

Figs. 3 and 4 
Pierre-Jacques Volaire, 
Eruption of Vesuvius (detail), 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Neapolitans in the protective powers of the tutelary 
saint of the city, Saint Januarius, or San Gennaro. 
Believed to have been martyred in the Diocletian per- 
secution of a.d. 305, Januarius is well known for the 
liquefaction of a vial of his blood in the Cathedral of 
Naples. Neapolitans invoked his protection against vari- 
ous calamities, but in particular against eruptions of 
Vesuvius. Sir William Hamilton, describing the turmoil 
of the eruption of 20 October 1767, reported that 
"during the confusion of the night, . . . the mob . also 
set fire to the Cardinal Archbishop's gate, because he 
refused to bring out the relicks of Saint Januarius." 12 
Two nights later, "In the midst of these horrors, the 
mob, growing tumultuous and impatient, obliged the 
Cardinal to bring out the head of Saint Januarius, and 
go with it in procession to the Ponte Maddalena, at 
the extremity of Naples, towards Vesuvius; and it is 
well attested here, that the eruption ceased the moment 
the Saint came in sight of the mountain; it is true, the 
noise ceased about that time, after having lasted five 
hours, as it had done the preceding days." ! 3 

Those who had no access to the saintly relics made 
do with images in plaster and even drawings of the 
saint. During the eruption of 1766, Hamilton watched 
a flow of lava "destroy a poor man's vineyard, and sur- 
round his cottage, notwithstanding the opposition of 
many images of St. Januarius, that were placed upon 
the cottage, and tied to almost every vine. "'4 In 
the lower right foreground of Blundell's Eruption of 
Vesuvius, a group of women and children kneel and 
pray in the Piazza al Ponte della Maddalena before 
an image of San Gennaro in bishop's robes fastened 
to a stone pier (fig. 3). A short distance to the left, 
on the bridge itself, a man holds aloft what must be 
an image of the saint toward the mountain (fig. 4) . 
And on the crown of the bridge, a votive statue of 
Saint Januarius, designed by the Neapolitan sculptor 
Francesco Celebrano, faces Vesuvius (figs. 1 and 2). The 
statue, together with another representing Saint John 
of Nepomuk, was erected during the eruptions of 1767. 
Because only the the "miracle-working" statue of 
Januarius (as it was called in contemporary guides 
to the city) is shown installed on its base, it appears 
likely that Volaire intended to represent the eruption 
of 1767 and not, as stated by Blundell, 1769, a year in 
which there was no eruption. *5 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


By the beginning of the eighteenth century the Grand 
Tour 16 had become a conventional feature of the edu- 
cation of the upper classes, especially in Britain. The 
tour almost invariably included sojourns in France or 
the Netherlands, and sometimes also in Austria or 
Germany, but the northern countries were rarely 
visited, and Vienna usually marked the eastern limit 
of the journey. The young British noblemen — and, 
increasingly, noblewomen — who took the tour usually 
spent several years traveling on the Continent, princi- 
pally in Italy, where they could collect antiquities and 
works of art to take home with them. By the middle 
of the eighteenth century, Rome, Florence, and Naples 
had developed into the principal Italian destinations for 
the Grand Tourist and had become powerful magnets 
for the increasing number of young Irishmen, English- 
men, and Scots traveling abroad. 

Henry Blundell (1724-1810) (fig. 5), unlike most of 
the sons of the aristocracy and landed gentry who had 
set out on the Grand Tour after leaving university, 
did not travel to Italy until middle age. Blundell, the 
scion of a distinguished Roman Catholic Lancashire 
family, was thirty-six when his father, Robert (whom 
he succeeded in 1771), made over to him the family 
seat, Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool. In the previous 
year he had married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George 
Mostwyn of Talacre, and at about the same time his 
income had more than doubled by inheritance. Mrs. 
Blundell died in 1767, after having borne two daughters 
and a son. English penal laws against Roman Catholics 
in force at the time prevented Blundell from holding 
public office, and the honorary posts obtained by gen- 
tlemen of similar station were unavailable to him, so 
after the death of his wife he devoted his energies and 
his considerable fortune to collecting.^ 

Blundell began to collect paintings in England 
sometime between 1763 and 1767, and even before 
his visit to Italy commissioned four large landscapes 
of the Roman Campagna from Richard Wilson for a 
room at Ince. 18 The inspiration to collect on a grander 
scale seems to have come from Charles Townley, a 
Lancashire neighbor and fellow Roman Catholic, who 
in 1772 returned from seven years' residence in Rome 
with an important group of classical sculptures and 
antiquities that was to become one of the founding 
collections of the British Museum. 

Fig- 5 

George Bullock, 

Henry Blundell of Ince Blundell Hall, c. 1808-10. 
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. 

The little that is known of Blundell's Grand Tour 
activities indicates that he was in Turin on 10 February 
1777, preparing to set out for Milan and then Rome 
via Venice. He was reported to have left Rome in late 
April, presumably for Naples and the south of Italy. 1 ? 
In Rome he was accompanied by Townley and taken 
in hand by one of the leading cicerone to the visiting 
British tourists, Thomas Jenkins. Largely under Jenkins's 
guidance, Blundell bought antiquities from the Villa 
Mattei and the Villa d'Este as well as from the collec- 
tions of other Roman families including the Altieri, 
Borioni, Capponi, and Negroni. He made subsequent 
trips to Rome in 1782 to 1783, 1786, and possibly 1790, 
and during all of these visits he bought sculptures and 
paintings from the English dealers — Jenkins, Gavin 
Hamilton, James Byres, and Father John Thorpe; and 
from Italian dealers, antiquarians, and sculptors like 
Albacini, Volpato, and Antonio d'Este. 

It has been said that "Henry Blundell took to col- 
lecting with an enthusiasm bordering on obsession." 20 
At the time of his death in 1810 here were over 500 
pieces of ancient sculpture at Ince. The collection was 
one of the two largest private collections of ancient 
marbles ever formed in Great Britain — Townley's was 
the other — and was comparable in importance and 
quality to those created in the 1770s by the other great 
British collectors of classical sculpture and antiquities, 
William Weddell of Newby, and John Smith-Barry of 
Marbury Hall. Upon his return to Lancashire, in order 
to house his collection of antique sculpture, which re- 
mains virtually intact and in the care of the National 
Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, he converted 
a garden building into a classical temple. In 1809, in 
order to contain the overflow, he built a small-scale 
replica of the Pantheon at Ince that is an exemplar of 
the neoclassical English dilettante's gallery. 

Blundell's enthusiasm for pictures matched his 
passion for antique sculpture, and the 1803 catalogue 
of his collection, An Account of the Statues, Busts, Bass- 
Relieves, Cinerary Urns and Other Ancient Marbles and 
Paintings at Ince, lists 197 paintings and drawings. 21 The 
collection he assembled at Ince reflected the prevailing 
taste of the period for the Italian baroque, including 
numerous pictures, often religious in subject, by or after 
Domenichino, Luca Giordano, Guercino, Giovanni 
Lanfranco, Pier Francesco Mola, Simone Pignone, 
Guido Reni, Bartolommeo Schedoni, and Giovanni 

Francesco Romanelli, and for Dutch seventeenth- 
century landscapes and genre scenes. Blundell's niche 
in the history of British art collecting, however, was 
secured by his early interest in "primitives," or paint- 
ings of the Netherlandish and Italian schools before 
1500. His greatest individual painting was the Virgin and 
Child, signed and dated 1432 by Jan van Eyck (National 
Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne), but he also owned 
pictures by or in the manner of Joos van Cleve, Dieric 
Bouts, Hans Memling, the Master of St. Bartholomew, 
Jacopo del Sellaio, and Bernardo Daddi. 

In Italy, Henry Blundell patronized Antonio 
Canova and acquired numerous works by contem- 
porary painters including Pompeo Batoni, Giuseppe 
Cades, Antonio Cavallucci, Corrado Giaquinto, Anton 
Raphael Mengs, and Pietro di Pietri. Like many of 
his English compatriots, he had a great passion for 
landscape painting, and his collection contained dozens 
of landscape and topographical paintings by Dutch, 
English, French, and Italian artists. And like many 
Grand Tourists, he avidly sought topographical views 
of the sights he had visited on his Italian sojourn, in 
particular views of Rome, Venice, Naples, and their 
environs. When he got to Rome, for example, he 
purchased five landscapes by Carlo Labruzzi and a pair 
by Jan Frans Van Bloemen with figures by Placido 

But for Blundell it was Naples that proved truly 
magical. "Naples must have been a paradise for travelers 
in the eighteenth century," Sir Brinsley Ford has writ- 
ten. "There were countless delightful expeditions to be 
made, many of them by boat, to Posillipo, to Virgil's 
tomb, to Baiae, to Capri, and sometimes farther afield 
to Paestum. Of course the crowning expedition of all 
was the ascent of Vesuvius." 22 It is not known whether 
Blundell actually ascended the slopes of the volcano, 
but he bought views of the city and its environs, each 
of which appears to have been acquired directly from 
the painters involved: Adrien Manglard, a pair of 
seascapes; Pietro Antoniani, four views of Naples; 
and Volaire, the Eruption of Vesuvius. 

Francis Russell has established the importance of 
Charles Townley's role in the commissioning of the 
painting now in the North Carolina Museum of Art. 
Townley, during a previous trip to Naples in 1768, 
commissioned from Volaire two views of Vesuvius, 
which remain untraced, depicting the eruption of 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


I () 

Fig. 6 

Pierre-Jacques Volaire, 
Eruption of Vesuvius, c. 1777-81. 
Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes. 

Fig. 7 

Pierre-Jacques Volaire, 
Eruption of Vesuvius, ijSx. 
Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. 

Fig. 8 

Pierre-Jacques Volaire, 
Eruption of Vesuvius, c. 1777-81. 
Museo Irpino, Avellino. 

1767. 2 3 Townley visited Naples again in 1772 and 
T 773> when he no doubt met Volaire, and he returned 
with Henry Blundell in 1777, when the identical pair 
of views of Vesuvius, of which only the version in 
Raleigh survives, was ordered. Townley's agent in 
Naples had been Mr. Leigh, whose death after the 
pictures had been commissioned led Townley to call 
on the services of Thomas Jenkins in Rome. On 21 
November 1780 Townley asked Jenkins to recover 
from Leigh's associate "the two pictures of the erup- 
tion of Vesuvius by Mons. Volaire, and which were 
consigned by Volaire to Mr. Leigh a little time before 
his death, the two pictures belong to Mr. Blundel and 
myself. " 2 4 

Henry Blundell's Eruption of Vesuvius, the grandest 
and most imaginative of Volaire's paintings of the 
subject, was obviously a great success. The painting 
became the model for several replicas, which include 
the lost canvas commissioned by Townley; a signed 
painting in the Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes (fig. 
6); a signed and dated version of 1782 in the Museo 
Capodimonte (fig. 7) as well as two unsigned canvas- 
es — evidently autograph — in the Museo del Sannio, 
Benevento, and in the Museo Irpino, Avellino (fig. 
8). 2 5 Each of the later versions contains minor differ- 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


ences in detail, but adheres generally to the composi- 
tional formula of the prototype. 

What sets this group of scenes of Vesuvius apart 
from the artist's other treatments of the theme is the 
focus on the destructiveness and malevolence of the 
volcano rather than on its purely picturesque interest. 
Although it is true that as the century progressed, 
Vesuvius was increasingly appreciated by an enlight- 
ened, upper-class audience of visitors from the north 
of Europe as beneficent and creative and even as 
revealing a "wise purpose," 2 - 6 in Sir William Hamilton's 
words, for the general population in and around Naples 
an eruption of Vesuvius was a terrifying, calamitous 
event. By focusing on the rout of the "vulgar mob" in 
their flight from the lava flows and the bombardment 
of rocks, ashes, and cinders, Volaire has invested his 
depiction of Vesuvius with a dramatic interest absent 
from his other treatments of the theme, which usually 
show spectators viewing the volcano from the relative 
safety of the Atrio del Cavallo, a ridge near the Monte 
Somma, or from Naples itself, and waving their hats 
and cheering as if watching a display of fireworks. 

In its wide-screen view of the exploding volcano, 
its dramatic power, and its spectacular effects of light, 
Henry Blundell's Eruption of Vesuvius proclaims itself 
a tour de force. The work represents the successful cul- 
mination of nearly a decade of experimentation with 
different views of Vesuvius and is unquestionably 
Volaire's masterpiece. His lively handling of paint 
confirms the observations of the late Neapolitan art 
historian Raffaello Causa that Volaire "was at his most 
innovative and interesting when he experimented with 
a kind of abbreviated painterly handwriting, applying 
dense and luminous impastos to his canvas to give a 
sense of the presence and heat of fiery red lava." 2 7 In 
no other canvas did Volaire so effectively contrast the 
brilliance of the bursting volcano with the silvery 
reflections of the full moon on the surface of the sea. 
And in showing the panic of the crowd fleeing from 
Portici to Naples, Volaire has invigorated the tradi- 
tional picturesque view of Vesuvius with a dramatic 
force that commands our attention more than two 
hundred years later. 

Edgar Peters Bowron is Andrew W. Mellon Senior 
Consultative Curator at the National Gallery of Art, 
Washington, D. C. He was director of the North Carolina 
Museum of Art from ip8i to ip8^. 


Commissioned in 1777 by Henry Blundell, for Ince Blundell Hall, 
Lancashire, England; thence by family descent to Col. Sir Joseph 
Weld, who sold Ince in i960, but kept the art collections, 
transferring the paintings to Lulworth Castle, Dorset, in 1961; his 
sale Christie's, London, 12 December 1980, lot 104; [Agnew's, 
London]; acquired by the North Carolina Museum of Art from 
Agnew's, 1982. 

Select Bibliography 

Blundell, H. An Account of the Statues, Busts, Bass- Relieves, Cinerary 
Urns, and other Ancient Marbles, and Paintings, at Ince. Collected by 
H. B.. Liverpool, 1803. 227-28, no. 53. 

Neale, J. P. Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in 
England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. London, 1823. 6: n.p. (q.v. 
"Ince, Lancashire; The Seat of Charles Blundell, Esq.," as "A 
view of the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1779, by Volaire"). 

Gronau, H. "Ince Blundell Hall Catalogue." Ince Blundell Hall, 
1948. 56, no. 53. 

Jacob, J. Pictures from Ince Blundell Hall (exh. cat., Walker Art 
Gallery). Liverpool, i960. 6. 

Causa Picone, M. "Volaire," Antologia di Belle Arti 5 (1978): 39, 48, 
n. 39 (identified incorrectly as an Eruption of Vesuvius sold at 
Christie's, London, 27 February 1948, lot 65). 

Russell, F. "Sights for the Jaded Traveler; British Patrons and 
Neapolitan Viewpainters," Country Life 150 (25 April 1985): 1149, 
fig. 1. 

Spinosa, N., and L. Di Mauro. Vedute Napoletane del Settecento. 
Naples, 1989. 196, fig. 104, no. 108. 


I wish to thank Burton Fredenckson, Francis Russell, Susan 
Sivard, and Kim Sloan for their help during the preparation of this 

1. E. Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of 
the Sublime and Beautiful, ed. J. T. Boulton (London, 1987), 39: 

"Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and 
danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is con- 
versant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous 
to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the 
strongest emotion of which the mind is capable of feeling." 

2. All'ombra del Vesuvio. Napoli nella veduta europea da Quattrocento 
all'Ottocento [exh. cat., Castel Sant'Elmo] (Naples, 1990), and In the 
Shadow of Vesuvius [exh. cat., Accademia Italiana] (London, 1990). 
See also A. P. Murphy, Visions of Vesuvius [exh. cat., Museum of 
Fine Arts] (Boston, 1978), for an earlier survey of representations 
of Vesuvius by artists from the seventeenth through the nineteenth 

3. The basic sources for Volaire's life and art can be found in the 
discussions by J. Foucart, in French Painting 1774-1830: The Age of 
Revolution [exh. cat., Grand Palais, Detroit Institute of Arts, 
Metropolitan Museum of Art] (Paris, Detroit, New York, 
1974-75), 674-77; Causa Picone, 24-48; and P. Bedarida, in 
All'ombra del Vesuvio, 432-34. 

4. Carlo Bona via painted several eruptions of Vesuvius in moon- 
light during the 1750s (W. G. Constable, "Carlo Bonavia," Art 
Quarterly 22 (1959): 29, 30, figs. 8, 9; and "Carlo Bonavia: An 
Addendum," Art Quarterly 25 (1962): 122, fig. 1); and Charles- 
Francois Grenier de La Croix, called Lacroix de Marseille, painted 
views of Vesuvius in the 1760s with the moon rising above the 


Bay of Naples (P. Rosenberg and M. C. Stewart, French Paintings 
1500-1825. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco [San Francisco, 
1987]: 196-97). Although each anticipates elements of Volaire's 
later views of Vesuvius — the volcano in eruption, the moonlight 
reflecting on the surface of the Bay of Naples, and the silhouettes 
of the ships' rigging — Volaire's treatment of the subject is 
altogether more visionary and imaginative. 

5. Joseph Wright, quoted by B. Nicolson, Joseph Wright of Derby: 
Painter of Light (London, 1968), 1: 77. 

6. Foucart, 675. 

7. For a discussion of the importance of the Campi Phlegraei, see 
C. Knight, "Sir William Hamilton's Campi Phlegraei and the 
Artistic Contribution of Peter Fabris," Oxford, China, and Italy: 
Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday, ed. 
E. Chaney and N. Ritchie (London, 1984), 192-208. 

8. W. Hamilton, Observations on Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, 
and Other Volcanoes: In a Series of Letters Addressed to the Royal 
Society, . . .(London, 1772), 10, 32, 33. 

9. Blundell, 227-28. 

10. B. Fothergill, Sir William Hamilton. Envoy Extraordinary 
(London, 1969), 89, quoting B. M. Egerton ms. 2634, fol. 350. On 
an excursion to Vesuvius on 16 September 1778, Thomas Jones 
saw a "tremendous burning River" that "Roll'd & tumbled 
forward with a Slow motion in a Stream about as wide as the Tiber 
at Rome" ("Memoirs of Thomas Jones," ed. A. P. Oppe, The 
Walpole Society 32 (1946-48) [1951]: 78). 

11. Scipione Campagno represented the procession of 17 January 1631 
to the foot of the Ponte della Maddalena to implore San Gennaro 
to end the eruption of Vesuvius (AU'ombra del Vesuvio, 372, fig. 
283, illustrating a replica in a private collection, Naples, of a 
painting on copper in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 
signed and dated 1631). 

12. Hamilton, 32. Thomas Jones witnessed, during an excursion 

to Portici in 1778, a ritual procession in which a bronze bust of the 
saint rather than his skull in Naples cathedral was "employed 
towards the Mountain, in order to put a stop to the further 
depredations of the Lava" ("Memoirs," 78). 

13. Hamilton, 35. 

14. Ibid., 11. 

15. For a drawing depicting the eruption of 1779 by Louis Jean 
Desprez in which the statues of San Gennaro and San Giovanni 
Nepomuceno are erected on altars on the bridge, see N. G. 
Wollin, Gravures originates de Desprez ou executees d'apres ses dessins 
(Malmo, 1933), 112, 167, fig. 55. Although the dates generally 
assigned to the various eruptions depicted by Volaire must be 
accepted provisionally until his paintings are examined more 
closely in comparison with contemporary prints, maps, and 
illustrated guides, he evidently made use of engravings and the 
work of other artists to achieve accurate representations of 
eruptions that occurred before his arrival in Naples in 1769. For 
example, the present painting does not represent Portici as it 
appeared in 1777 at the time of its execution because there is no 
evidence of the Nuovo Porto, constructed between 1773 and 1775. 

16. For an introduction to the subject, see B. Ford, "The Grand 
Tour," Apollo 114 (December 1981): 390-400. 

17. For a general account of Blundell and Ince, see C. Hussey, 
"Ince Blundell Hall, Lancashire: I. The Property of the Trustees 

of Ince Blundell Settled Estate," Country Life 123 (10 April 1958): 
756-59; "II," Country Life 123 (17 April 1958): 816-19; "HI," Country 
Life 123 (24 April 1958): 876-79. 

18. W. G. Constable, Richard Wilson (London, 1953), 43, notes that 
the work was largely carried out by pupils under the supervison of 

19. Information from the archives of Sir Brinsley Ford relating to 
the British in Italy in the eighteenth century, The Paul Mellon 
Centre for Studies in British Art, London. 

20. J. Fejfer and E. Southworth, "Summer in England — Ince 
Blundell Hall Revisited," Apollo 129 (March 1989): 179. 

21. For Blundell's collection of paintings, see Jacob, 5-8; and Paintings 
from the Lulworth Castle Gallery [exh. cat., Russell-Cotes Art 
Gallery and Museum] (Bournemouth, 1967). Gerard Vaughan, 
Wolfson College, Oxford, is preparing a study of Henry Blundell 
as a collector for the series of catalogues of the Ince Blundell 
collections of classical sculpture in the National Museums and 
Galleries on Merseyside. 

22. Ford, 396. 

23. F. Russell, "Volaire and Charles Townley," unpublished article, 
1985, 1, based on the Townley papers deposited in the Lancashire 
Record Office, Preston. The contract of 19 March 1768 was signed 
by both Volaire and Townley (Townley mss. DDTO, GVA), and 
after the latter's departure for Rome, he continued to receive a 
number of letters from the painter. I am extremely grateful to 
Francis Russell for permitting me to publish his research. 

24. Russell, "Volaire and Charles Townley," 7, "Ac[coun]ts in 
France and Italy from 28,Octob:i77i to 13 Feb:i774," Townley 
mss. DDTO, GVH. 

25. Spinosa and Di Mauro, 196. For the version in Nantes, see 
French Painting: The Revolutionary Decades, 1760- 1830 [exh. cat., 
Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria] 
(Sydney, Melbourne, 1980-81), 7, 235 ill.; for the Museo 
Capodimonte painting, see AU'ombra del Vesuvio, 291, 434 ill.; 

and for the version in Avellino, see Artefrancese a Napoli [exh. cat., 
Palazzo Reale] (Naples, 1967), no. 41, fig. 37. 

26. S. Sivard, "Some Wise Purpose: Volcanic Imagery in the Late 
Eighteenth Century," paper delivered at the College Art 
Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., 21 February 
1990, observes the changes during the second half of the eigh- 
teenth century in the interpretation of images of volcanos and 
texts concerning eruptions. Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of 
Judgement (1790), for example, distinguished between the res- 
ponses of the enlightened or educated person and the "untutored 
man" to natural catastrophes. The latter can discover only "mis- 
ery, pain, and distress" in a natural disaster such as the eruption 
of Vesuvius. The enlightened individual, however, can under- 
stand the volcano "in a creative rather than a destructive right." In 
Sir William Hamilton's view, the calamities suffered by Pompeii 
and Herculaneum were only "partial misfortunes, on the great 
scale of nature, it was no more than the chance or ill fate of 
these cities to have stood in the line of one of its operations; 
intended perhaps for some wise purpose, and the benefit of 
future generations." S. Sivard, "The Volcano in European and 
American Art, 1770-1870" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University), 
provides a thoughtful analysis of a wide range of material in her 
forthcoming dissertation on volcanic imagery in the late eigh- 
teenth and early nineteenth centuries. 

27. R. Causa, "Foreign View-Painters in Naples," The Golden Age 
of Naples: Art and Civilization Under the Bourbons 1734-180$ [exh. 
cat., Detroit Institute of Arts, Art Institute of Chicago] (Detroit, 
Chicago, 1980-81), 1: 187. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV. 1991 



Two Views by Bernardo Bellotto: 

View of Dresden with the Frauenkirche at Left and 

View of Dresden with the Hofkirche at Right 

William Barcham 

Fig. i 

Bernardo Bellotto (1710-1780), 

View of Dresden with the 

Frauenkirche at Left, 1747. 

Oil on canvas, 59 x 93 in., 




at lower left. North Carolina 

Museum of Art. 51.9.145 

Fig. 2 

Bernardo Bellotto (1720-1780), 
View of Dresden with the 
Hofkirche at Right, 1748. 
Oil on canvas, 59 x 93 in., 
signed . . . o Bellotto Detto Canaleto 
F. Anno 1748 at lower left. 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

In 1952 the North Carolina Museum of Art 
acquired two spectacular views of the city of Dresden by the 
Venetian artist Bernardo Bellotto. 1 The paintings, executed in 1747 
and 1748, show the famous Saxon capital as it looked along the banks 
of the Elbe River at midcentury The two views are complementary, 
for each depicts a different side of the river. In View of Dresden with 
the Frauenkirche at Left (fig. 1), we look from the river's right bank, 
from the Neustadt or New City, at the Augustusbriicke, the 
Hofkirche, which is toward the left center of the painting and shown 
with its facade in scaffolding, and the Frauenkirche at the far left. 
The other painting, View of Dresden with the Hofkirche at Right (fig. 2), 
places us on the Elbe's left side, in the Altstadt, with the Hofkirche 
now almost directly before us. 

Both views of Dresden are spectacular for their 
panoramic breadth, their utterly convincing depiction of deep space, 
and the dramatic contrasts of heavy shadow and bright sunlight. 
Captivating as well are the many beautifully painted architectural 
details and staffage. In both paintings, a series of orthogonals seems 
to converge toward the center (although actually, the system here is 
imperfect). More powerful than the plunge into depth, however, is 
the panoramic breadth that Bellotto creates by employing the same 
elements in each case, but in a converse relationship. In the View with 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


the Frauenkirche (fig. i), Bellotto manipulates the arcaded 
bridge to counteract the perspectival recession of the 
river; in the View with the Hqfkirche (fig. 2), the artist 
uses the turn of that same river to cut the bridge, 
whose lines now do not expand horizontally across 
the canvas but rather pull into the distance. 

But the importance of Bellotto's two paintings lies 
not only in their pictorial effects; the two works are also 
important documents of the history of Saxon culture. 
Grand in scale — each approximately five feet in height 
and almost eight feet in width, these views of Dresden 
show us the architectural and cultural achievements of 
two electors of Saxony, who were also kings of Poland, 
and they remind us as well of the significant position 
that the court of Dresden held in Europe during the 
first half of the eighteenth century. 

Bernardo Bellotto was born in Venice in 1721 to 
Fiorenza Domenica Canal and Lorenzo Bellotto. 2 He 
could not have been more fortunate in his birth, both 
for the family into which he was born and the time of 
his arrival. His mother was the sister of the famous 

Venetian view painter Antonio Canaletto, who during 
the 1720s and 1730s was developing into one of the 
greatest artists of the century. 

During the 1730s, Antonio Canaletto was at the 
very height of his artistic powers and enjoyed his great- 
est popularity. After only a little more than fifteen years 
as an artist, he had more commissions arriving at his 
door than he could possibly handle, and this with his 
asking very high prices. 3 In actuality, Canaletto had no 
serious artistic competition; the market for Venetian 
views was totally his. And, during the early part of the 
second quarter of the century, the market was a thor- 
oughly thriving one, depending for the most part on 
foreign tourism. Englishmen, in particular, were travel- 
ing on the continent for their Grand Tours, and Venice 
was one of the cities they visited. After crossing the 
Alps, they made their way east from Milan, perhaps 
visiting Bergamo, Verona, or Vicenza. Finally, after 
stopping at Padua, they hired a boat that ferried them 
across the Venetian lagoon. They were amazed at the 
city that greeted them, at its very special relationship 

1 6 

Fig- 3 

Antonio Canaletto, 
Grand Canal: Looking North from 
near the Rialto Bridge, 1725. 
Private collection. 

Fig- 4 

Antonio Canaletto, 
The Bacino di San Marco: 
Looking East, c. 1738. 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 
Abbott Lawrence Fund, 
Seth K. Sweetser Fund, and 
Charles Edward French Fund. 

with the sky and the sea, at its unique urban organi- 
zation, and at its magnificent architecture. And because 
Venice was most likely their first real period of rest after 
a tiring journey across Europe, they usually spent a week 
or two there. Quite understandably, the visiting English 
lords wanted mementos of their visits to Venice and of 
the extraordinary sights that they could encounter only 
there. No one could provide them with more beautiful 
images or more precise descriptions of this unforgettable 
experience than Antonio Canaletto. 

Canaletto's pictorial formula, developed during 
the early 1720s, was based on the depiction of one of 
Venice's canals or squares in order to create a deep view 
into urban space; he set this space under a broad expanse 
of sky filled with dramatically streaking clouds. A good 
example of this is Grand Canal: Looking North from near 
the Rialto Bridge, now in a private collection (fig. 3), in 
which deep shadows fall horizontally across the canvas; 
they contrast luministically with the bright facades 
along the embankments, and compositionally with the 
recession of the canal itself. During the 1730s, as 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 5 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Florence with the Arno River 
and the Ponte Vecchio, c. 1742. 
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 

Fig. 6 

Antonio Canaletto, 
View of the Grand Canal with 
the Rialto Bridge, c. 1733-35. 
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Antica, Rome. 


Canaletto's art matured, it became more and more 
complex. He began to create urban scenes that were 
more panoramic in scope than deep in recession. In 
these paintings, Venice seems to expand in breadth, its 
space inflated and filled with bright sunshine. Moreover, 
the city no longer is shown in winter or autumn but 
instead in springtime, and as a result Canaletto's colors 
shift from russet browns to rosy pinks and cerulean 
blues. His masterpiece of this period is The Bacino di 
San Marco: Looking East, a painting now in the Museum 
of Fine Arts in Boston (fig. 4). There, perspectival 
orthogonals have been done away with completely to 
avoid the rigidly organized, boxlike spaces painted 
in the previous decade. 

Perhaps as a result of excellent schooling from his 
especially attentive uncle, Bellotto's professional accom- 
plishments were great enough in 1738 at age seventeen 
for his name to be added to the lists of membership in 
the Fraglia, the Venetian guild of painters. Between 1738 
and 1747, that is between his inscription into the Fraglia 
and his departure for Germany, Bellotto executed many 
views of Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan, Turin, and 
Verona, as well as a few of the north Italian country- 
side^ All these works make manifest Bellotto's under- 
standing of Canaletto's art. For instance, in a View of 
Florence with the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio (fig. 5), 
the nephew clearly repeats his uncle's formula as seen, 
for instance, in the View of the Grand Canal with the 
Rialto Bridge (fig. 6), a work most likely done in the 
mid-i73os. Using the river exactly as Canaletto uses 
the Grand Canal, Bellotto depicts the Arno as a closed 
spatial compartment, the Ponte Vecchio cutting the 
view into the distance as the Rialto does in the painting 
in figure 6. In both works, boats accentuate the move- 
ment into depth, and they emphasize, too, breadth from 
one embankment to another. In both canvases also, the 
bridges' darkened arches create a luministic contrast 
with the bright area immediately beyond. Finally, the 
buildings on the left in Bellotto's painting contrast 
dramatically with those facing them, just as Canaletto 
differentiates between the Riva del Carbon and the 
Riva del Vin. 

Despite the similarities to his uncle's work, there 
appeared in the young Bellotto's art a pictorial con- 
ception of a view that, already in the early 1740s, was 
radically different. The differences between the two 
can be most easily understood by looking at one of 
Bellotto's early views of the north Italian countryside, 


■mm* ..m. 

Fig- 7 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Gazzada, c. 1744-47. 
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. 

the View of Gazzada (fig. 7). The focus on landscape is 
in itself a remarkable change, for rarely did Canaletto 
produce anything similar in subject matter. His principal 
concern was almost always a city's urban fabric, not 
the villa or village outside it.5 In Bellotto's very beautiful 
painting, there is a unifying tonality of deep greens, 
interspersed here and there with small areas of beige 
or cream. Unlike in Canaletto's early works, there are 
no contrasting touches of yellow or pink to enrich the 
canvas's surface appeal. Bellotto also avoids long, cut- 
ting lines that might denote the presence of large archi- 
tectural forms. In such a manner, he creates a pure 
landscape that appears to have been quickly and spon- 
taneously painted. This work and others like it look 
profoundly different from anything that Canaletto 
ever painted. 

The fives and careers of both uncle and nephew 
were changed by the War of the Austrian Succession, 
which had broken out in 1742 and cut tourism to Italy 
down to a trickle. 6 As requests for views declined in 
number, Canaletto was forced, early in the decade, to 
take on new kinds of commissions/ and Bellotto trav- 
eled from city to city to find adequate employment. 
By 1746 the situation was sufficiently grave that even 
the famous Canaletto had to leave Venice. Acting prob- 
ably on a suggestion from Joseph Smith, consul from 
the Court of St. James to the Venetian Republic and a 
long-time patron, Canaletto moved to London. 8 There, 
he painted views of the city, its new monuments — the 
bridge at Westminster, for instance — country views, and 
the nobility's estates. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 8 

Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768), 

Capriccio: The Rialto Bridge and 

the Church of S. Giorgio Maggiore, 

c. 1750-60. Oil on canvas, 66 x 45 in. 

North Carolina Museum of Art. 


He also produced several capricci, or fantasy views, 
conglomerations of imaginary and/or real architectural 
monuments placed in urban or country settings. One 
famous pair, the so-called "Lovelace Capriccios" now in 
the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., shows a 
set of river landscapes, both containing ancient Roman 
structures, Gothic monuments, and pieces of English 
architecture. They are typical of the artist's pictorial 
whimsy, fascinating the viewer with their miscellany of 
unrelated buildings placed together in a coherent image. 
Another such caprice by Canaletto, vertical in format 
like the Lovelace paintings and also probably dating 
from late in the artist's English period (c. 1750-60), is his 
Capriccio: The Rialto Bridge and the Church of S. Giorgio 
Maggiore (fig. 8) , now in the collection of the North 
Carolina Museum of Art. Transposing Palladio's church 
of S. Giorgio Maggiore, begun in 1566 and completed 
in 1611, from its actual site across from the Ducal Palace 
to Venice's historic center, adjacent to the city's famous 
Rialto Bridge, the painter creates a new urban com- 
plex, very familiar and yet completely novel. Instead of 
portraying the real commercial buildings and patrician 
palaces along the Grand Canal's two near embankments, 
Canaletto inserts Venice's most famous sixteenth- 
century church on one of them and, opposite it, at the 
far left, a palace "lifted" from outside the city. Thus 
Canaletto plays havoc with the Rialto Bridge's tradi- 
tional association with business, transforming the area 
into a major ecclesiastical center. The position of the 
church's quay, jutting out irregularly into the Grand 
Canal so that boats can no longer easily maneuver 
along the waterway, emphasizes the geographical 

Soon after Canaletto moved to England in 1746, 
where he would remain for about a decade, Bellotto 
left for Germany. Although the uncle returned home in 
1755, the nephew would never again see Italy. Bellotto's 
decision to quit Venice was prompted by an official 
invitation from the government of Augustus III. 
Augustus had been ruling in Dresden as both elector of 
Saxony and king of Poland since 1733. He was a member 
of the Wettin family, who had been in control of the 
city of Dresden as margraves of Meissen since the early 
fourteenth century. From the sixteenth century on, 
Dresden had flourished under the Wettin. 9 Several of 
the margraves imported artists from Italy, and they built 
up important collections of art. Large-scale architectural 


work and renovations were begun after a dreadful fire 
swept across the city in 1591. Until the reign of Augustus 
the Strong, however, artistic activity in Dresden did not 
reach its peak. 

Augustus the Strong, born in 1660, succeeded to 
the title of elector in 1694. As Friedrich Augustus I, he 
not only ruled over Saxony but was also enfranchised, 
together with a small group of other German princes, 
to elect the Holy Roman Emperor whenever that post 
fell vacant. In addition, Augustus, like the other electors, 
was allowed to accept the crown of another country 
should it be offered. Such events did happen, as when 
the elector of Brandenburg became the king of Prussia 
in 1701 or when the elector of Hanover became king 
of England in 1714. 10 Augustus preceded them both in 
his elevation to a throne: in 1697 he accepted the invi- 
tation of the nobles of Poland, who traditionally met to 
elect their king, to become their ruler. But Augustus had 
to make one drastic alteration in his life. The terms of 
the Polish election specified that the king be Catholic 
like his future subjects, and in compliance, Augustus 
converted from the Protestant faith to which all the 
rulers of Saxony had adhered since the Reform in 1539. 

Although now kind of Poland, Augustus remained 
in Dresden and ruled from there. His commitment 
to enhancing the beauties of Dresden can be traced 
from the moment of his conversion and his accession 
to the Polish throne. His projects for the city were 
numerous, but only several of the most important can 
be mentioned here. In 1705 he appointed as court archi- 
tect Mathaes Daniel Poppelmann (1661-1736), who 
created a series of splendid palaces. The most famous is 
the Zwinger, which was begun around 1710. Although 
never actually completed, the Zwinger's Kronentor and 
Wallpavillon represent the high point of the rococo 
style in Saxony. Several years later, Poppelmann began 
renovations on the most historic bridge crossing the 
Elbe, the Augustusbriicke. Dating back to the twelfth 
century and connecting the two halves of the city, the 
bridge's importance to Dresden can be judged by the 
significant place given it in both of Bellotto's views. 11 

Other important works conceived by Augustus II 
include the opening of the Royal Painting Gallery, now 
the Gemaldegalerie, the creation of the Kupferstich 
Kabinett (the print collection), and the opening of the 
Grunes Gewolbe (the green vault), the first treasure 
museum open to the public. 12 Augustus also established 

Fig. 9 

Enamel miniature of Augustus III, 
Grunes Gewolbe, Staatliche 
Kunstsammlungen, Dresden. 

a porcelain factory at Meissen, which in 1710 began to 
produce some of the most beautiful works of their kind, 
and he eventually created a museum for their display. 
The Frauenkirche, Dresden's most important Protestant 
church and depicted in one of the views in Raleigh 
(fig. 1), was begun in this same period by the architect 
Georg Bahr (1666-1738). Augustus's reign was charac- 
terized also by expansion in related areas of interest. 
For example, the king financed a scientific expedition 
to Africa and encouraged publications on ethnology. In 
sum, Augustus IPs long reign in Dresden transformed 
the city architecturally, culturally, and intellectually. 
(The king also significantly increased the population; 
he sired 354 children out of wedlock.) 

When he died in 1733, Augustus II was succeeded 
by his son, who, as elector of Saxony, had become 
Friedrich Augustus II. With the diplomatic aid of 
Austria, Russia, and Prussia, he, too, managed to win 
the Polish crown, ruling as Augustus III (fig. 9). 
Augustus III turned over the running of his govern- 
ment to an ambitious young man, Heinrich Briihl 
(fig. 10). Although Briihl had no particular genius and 
httle educational background, it was he who helped 
Augustus carry on his father's cultural and artistic pro- 
jects and who brought Bernardo Bellotto to Dresden 
in 1747. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 10 

J. J. Balechou, after Louis Silvestre the 
Younger, Count Heinrich Briihl (detail), 
c. 1750. 

Fig. 11 

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Count Algarotti, 
c. 1745. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 

Born in 1700, at age thirteen Briihl became a page 
to Grafin Federika Elisabeth, the widow of the Duke of 
Saxony- Weissenfels.^ While traveling with Federika in 
1720, Briihl managed to detach himself from her retinue 
and to attach himself instead to the Saxon court, where 
eventually — and amazingly — he became court chamber- 
lain to Augustus II in 1730. Upon Augustus Ill's acces- 
sion to the throne three years later, Briihl succeeded in 
becoming president of the chamber, the head of the 
entire governmental administration, as well as the direc- 
tor of the collections of art. And through further intrigu- 
ing, in 1746 Briihl rose to become first minister to the 

Among Briihl's responsibilities as director of the art 
collections was appointing foreign agents in Vienna, 
Paris, Madrid, Rome, and the Netherlands to buy paint- 
ings for the king's ever-growing museum. Briihl was so 
successful that twenty years after his climb to power the 
royal collections had grown to contain nearly fifteen 
hundred works. The man most useful to Briihl in these 
endeavors was Francesco Algarotti (fig. 11). : 4 

A Venetian born in 1712, Algarotti traveled widely 
and spoke several languages. His reputation as an 
important literary figure was assured by his several 
publications, above all his Neutonianismo per le dame, 
a simplification of Newton's scientific theories. Hand- 
some, charming, and always sociable, Algarotti made 
friends wherever he went. In England he knew 
Alexander Pope; in Paris, Voltaire; and in Prussia he 
became the intimate of Frederick the Great. 1 * In the 
early 1740s Algarotti came to Dresden, where he 
struck up a friendship with Briihl, and as a result, was 
appointed Augustus's minister of war. Algarotti seems 
to have had very few responsibilities indeed in carrying 
that portfolio, but he rendered the king service by 
returning to Italy in 1743 in order to collect paintings 
for the royal galleries. While in Venice, he commis- 
sioned works from Giambattista Tiepolo for Briihl 
himself, the most important of these being the Triumph 
of Flora, now in the Fine Arts Museums of San Fran- 
cisco. 16 It was probably Algarotti who sent Bellotto to 
Augustus. Returning to Venice just after the eruption 
of the War of the Austrian Succession, and seeing the 
falling off in tourism and the subsequent lack of com- 
missions for view paintings, Algarotti must have under- 
stood how useful a royal invitation would be to an 
unemployed vedutistaP 

Fig. 12 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Dresden with the Frauenkirche at Left, 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Fig. 13 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Dresden with the Hofkirche at Right, 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Several Italians were already working in the Saxon 
capital when Bellotto arrived in 1747. Among them 
were Felicita Sartori, a Venetian who had been in 
Dresden since 1741. Born in 1715, Sartori had entered 
the house of the famous Venetian portraitist Rosalba 
Camera in 1728, where she worked as a servant in 
exchange for training as a painter. In 1740 Sartori met 
one of Augustus's counselors, a Herr Hoffmann, who 
fell in love with the young woman while visiting 
Venice. In 1741 Sartori went to Dresden on the invita- 
tion of King Augustus, who had tried unsuccessfully to 
attract Rosalba, whose pastels he greatly admired. When 
Sartori arrived in Dresden, she married Hoffmann. She 
died in Dresden in 1760. 18 

Another important Italian artist working in Dresden 
when Bellotto arrived was the architect Gaetano 
Chiaveri. Born in Rome in 1689, he had worked in 
St. Petersburg between 1718 and about 1730 for both 
Peter the Great and the Empress Catherine. *9 In 
September 1738 Augustus III commissioned Chiaveri 
to build a new Catholic church for the Saxon court. 
The project began as a secret, so as not to arouse hos- 
tility within the Protestant public. In June 1739 the 
purpose of the work was revealed when the first stone 
was laid at the foot of the Augustusbriicke. 20 The 
Hofkirche's setting, adjoining the royal palaces but 
also facing toward the New City, was visible confirma- 
tion of the Wettins's faith as well as testimony of the 
king's own commitment to his Polish crown. The 
church was not finished until 1755. 

Although other Italian artists were also working in 
Dresden at that time, 21 Sartori and Chiaveri are the 
two whose actual presence is felt in the two views of 

Dresden now in the North Carolina Museum of Art. 
View with the Frauenkirche (fig. 12) was taken from the 
house of Sartori and Hoffmann. And the church we see 
standing just to the left of center in that same painting is 
Chiaveri's Hofkirche. In View with the Hofkirche (fig. 13), 
the Hofkirche appears again, this time dominating the 
skyline, while our glance is broken in the far distance, 
just to the right of center, by the Sartori-Hoffmann 
house facing us from beyond the bridge. Today Sartori's 
home and the Catholic Hofkirche function as significant 
points of reference within the two paintings; in 1747 
and 1748 the two buildings must have played an impor- 
tant role in Bellotto's social and religious life. 

In the View with the Frauenkirche (fig. 12), we see the 
buildings belonging to Count Briihl on the left, sitting 
on the bastions called the Jungfernbastel. Briihl's com- 
plex, begun in 1737 and razed in the late nineteenth 
century, was designed by Johann Chnstoph Knoffel 
(1686-1752), who had earlier been responsible for several 
other palaces in Dresden. 22 From left to right, there are 
Briihl's art gallery with its nineteen windows (fig. 14), 
inside of which the two views now in Raleigh once 
hung; the tiny garden pavilion sitting at the corner of 
the projecting bastion; and finally, Briihl's palace itself. 
Further along the embankment are several of the build- 
ings of the royal palace with the Hausmann Tower 
standing just behind Chiaveri's Hofkirche. Beyond 
the Augustusbriicke, one can make out small segments 
of the Zwinger, after which lies the Dresden suburb 
ofWiUsdruff 2 3 

In View with the Hofkirche (fig. 13), we see the so- 
called Japanischen Palais on the far left, in the New 
City. It was destroyed during air raids on Dresden in 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin. Volume XV. 1991 

2 3 

February 1945, as were most of the buildings seen in 
these two views. On the Klostergasse, the embank- 
ment leading toward the Augustusbriicke, is a series of 
wealthy homes, the very last one of which belonged 
to Sartori and Hoffman. 

A number of figures populate the foreground in 
Bellotto's two views. Before Sartori's home (figs. 12 
and 15), several people stand conversing; they have tra- 
ditionally been identified as personal acquaintances of 
Bellotto. 2 4 The two men in the center are supposedly 
Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, on the left, and 
Alexander Thiele, both painters to Augustus III. To 
our right are the queen's physician, the fat castrato 
singer Niccolo Pozzi with his back to us, a courtier 
dressed as a Turk, and the court fool wearing Tyrolean 
costume. There are, in addition, several workmen en- 
gaged in chores, and others. On the Augustusbriicke, 
a long procession including a coach drawn by two 
horses crosses toward the New City. In the View with 
the Hojkirche (fig. 13), several people of a more humble 

position in Dresden society work and rest in the fields 
before the moat leading to the Zwinger. All of the fig- 
ures are painted with Bellotto's characteristically thick 
and active brushwork. The manner in which the light 
creates sharp divisions on their clothing and, indeed, 
their very casual and workaday presence are testimony 
to how Bellotto's staffage follows closely upon that of 

Bellotto's use of color in these views of Dresden 
is very different, however, from anything seen in 
Canaletto. Although the sky and the Elbe River are 
quite blue and the architecture is brilliantly lit by the 
sun, Bellotto creates a soft and warm tonality in each 
painting by his use of greens and neutral earth colors in 
the foreground. In contrast, Canaletto's sunlit views 
of Venice, as well as those of London, surprisingly 
enough, are much brighter, dazzling the viewer with 
their many sparkling touches of bright reds, yellows, 
and pinks. 

Fig. 15 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Dresden with the Frauenkirche at Left 
(detail), North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Both views of Dresden were executed for Count 
Briihl right after Bellotto arrived in Saxony. At the 
same time, Bellotto was working on twenty-five paint- 
ings for King Augustus III, fourteen views of Dresden 
and eleven of Pima, a nearby suburb where the king 
visited the royal palace of Sonnenstein. 2 * The King's set 
was completed by 1758. These canvases have remained 
in Dresden since their completion, and they are among 
the jewels of the Gemaldegalerie. 

In order to ingratiate himself into the favor of the 
king's powerful first minister, Bellotto also executed 
a series for Briihl. 26 The set consisted of twenty-one 
paintings, thirteen duplicating some of the king's views 
of Dresden and eight some of Pima. The twenty-one 
works in the Briihl series were hung with the rest of 
the count's art collection in the gallery seen in figures 
12 and 14. 

Bellotto made very few alterations from Augustus's 
series to Brum's. Looking specifically at the two paint- 
ings in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh 

and their counterparts in the Gemaldegalerie in Dresden 
(figs. 12 and 13; and 16 and 17), the most obvious alter- 
ation is that in the scene composed from the Sartori- 
Hoffmann house (fig. 16), Bellotto shows himself seated 
between Dietrich and Thiele in the Dresden version; 
in the Raleigh version (fig. 12) the two Germans stand 
alone. Also omitted in the Raleigh painting is the boat 
that sits next to the near embankment in the counter- 
part painting. In the two paintings that show the city 
from above the Augustusbriicke (figs. 13 and 17), there 
are no significant differences from one version to the 

But what is different — not from version to version 
but rather from one view to another within the same 
set — is the state of completion of Chiaven's Hofkirche 
(see figs. 12 with 13, and 16 with 17). In the views from 
below the Augustusbriicke (figs. 12 and 16), the church 
facade is still within scaffolding, the bell tower has not 
been erected, and the royal palace's Hausmannturm is 
the dominant vertical motif toward the canvases' center. 

North Carolina Museum of An Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 16 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Dresden with the Frauenkirche at Left, 1747. 
Gemaldegalerie, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, 

Fig. 17 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Dresden with the Hofkirche at Right, 1747. 
Gemaldegalerie, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, 

But in the two paintings from above the bridge, where 
the Hofkirche is the principal architectural element (figs. 
13 and 17), the bell tower appears to be finished, its scaf- 
folding soon to be taken down (the Hausmannturm is 
barely visible). This important alteration from one view 
to the other within the same set was not based upon 
visual fact, for the bell tower remained incomplete until 

1755. 2 7 Given that both of Bellotto's paintings of the 
Hofkirche (figs. 13 and 17) were done in the same year, 

1748. 28 what we see must be based on designs that the 
artist knew directly from Chiaveri's original drawings. 2 9 
In completing the church, Bellotto anticipated what he 
knew would happen, and he gave both Augustus and 
Bruhl a vision of how the court church would dominate 
their side of the Augustusbriicke. 

In 1756 the Seven Years' War broke out between 
Prussia and Austria, and Augustus sided with the latter. 
Frederick the Great of Prussia, marching southward, 
laid siege to Pirna and Dresden, and both Augustus and 
Briihl fled to Warsaw in 1760. Bellotto himself had left 
in 1758 or 1759 for Vienna. He returned to Dresden in 
1761 hoping to regain the patronage of both the king 
and his first minister, but they stayed in Warsaw until 
1763, and both of them died immediately after their 
return to Dresden in October 1763. During their ab- 
sence from Dresden, both collections of paintings were 
removed to Konigstein Castle; they were transported 
back to the city in 1763.3° Upon Briihl's death, Bellotto 
sued the count's heirs for payment for the twenty-one 
views, for the first minister had never given the artist the 
recompense that the contract stipulated. Bellotto's case 
was not allowed to go to court, and so the series was 

never paid for. In 1768 Catherine the Great bought 
fifteen of the twenty-one works, and they are still in 
the Soviet Union. Five of the twenty-one remained 
in Dresden but made their way to England in the late 
nineteenth century, from whence the two in the North 
Carolina Museum of Art were acquired in 1952. One 
painting from the series has completely disappeared. 

Bellotto continued to live in Dresden until 1766, 
when he left for Catherine's court in St. Petersburg. 
The following year he moved to Warsaw, where he 
was appointed court painter by the new king of Poland, 
Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski. In Warsaw and in all 
the cities of eastern Europe where he worked, Bellotto 
used his uncle's name and is known there as Canaletto 
(see his signature in fig. 18). He died in Warsaw in 1780. 
His uncle had already died in Venice in 1768. The two 
had not seen each other since 1744. Bellotto's widow, 
whom he had married in Italy in the early 1740s, 
remained in Warsaw after her husband's death, and 
their descendants continued the fine there and in the 
Ukraine well into the nineteenth century. 

William Barcham teaches at the Fashion Institute 
of Technology, New York. 

2 6 

Fig. 18 

Bernardo Bellotto, 

View of Dresden with the Frauenkirche at Left (detail), 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 



Commissioned by Graf von Heinrich Briihl, pnme minister of 
Electoral Saxony and Poland (1700-1763), Dresden; Briihl family, 
by descent; Rt. Hon. Lord Hillingdon, Hillingdon Court, 
Uxbridge, England, by 1894; Hillingdon sale, Christie, Manson, 
and Woods 3 May 1946, lots 43 and 44; [Ellis and Smith, London]; 
Mrs. Warwick Bryant; her sale Christie, Manson, and Woods, 23 
June 1950, lots 67 and 68; [David M. Koetser, New York]; 
acquired by the North Carolina Museum of Art from Koetser, 

Select Exhibition 

London, Royal Academy, 1894, nos. 107, 122. 
Select Bibliography 

Graves, A. A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813-1912, London, 
1913. 1: 56. 

Valentiner, W. R. North Carolina Museum of Art: Catalogue of 
Paintings Including Three Sets of Tapestries. Raleigh, 1956. 77, nos. 

Kozakiewicz, S. "Eine Dresdener Ansicht von Bernardo 
Bellotto," Pantheon 25 (November-December 1967), 447-48, 452, 
n. 16, fig. 5. 

Kozakiewicz, S. Bernardo Bellotto. Greenwich, Conn., 1972. 2: 108, 
127, nos. 141, 155, pis. 141, 155. 

Camesasca, E. L'opera completa del Bellotto, Milan, 1974. 96-97, 
nos. 75, 80. 


1. See Valentiner, cat. nos. 175 and 176. 

2. The most important publication on the artist is by Kozakiewicz, 
Bernardo Bellotto. See also Camesasca, L'opera completa del Bellotto, 
as well as the catalogue Bernardo Bellotto genannt Canaletto (Vienna, 
1965), for the exhibition held in Dresden, Warsaw, and Vienna 
between 1964 and 1965. 

3. On Canaletto's prices in the 1720s, see J. G. Links, Canaletto and 
His Patrons (New York, 1977), 13. 

4. For Bellotto's Italian period, see Kozakiewicz, 2: jS. 

5. He did paint a number of landscapes and scenes of country 
estates during his stay in England, however. 

6. See W. Barcham, The Imaginary View Scenes of Antonio Canaletto 
(New York, 1977), 119-20. 

7. See Barcham, "Canaletto and a Commission from Consul 
Smith," Art Bulletin 56 (September 1977): 383-93. 

8. For Smith and his relationship with Canaletto, see Links; 
Barcham, "Canaletto and a Commission from Consul Smith"; and 
F. Vivian, U console Smith mercante e collezionista (Vicenza, 1971). 

9. The family moved there early in the century. For a short 
history of Dresden, see Enciclopedia Italiana 13 (Rome, 1932), 
s. v. "Dresda." 

10. He reigned, of course, as George I. For a very readable 
explanation of this material, see N. Mitford, Frederick the Great 
(London, 1970), I4flf. 

11. For further reading on Saxon rococo architecture, see E. 
Hempel, Baroque Art and Architecture in Central Europe (Baltimore, 
1965), 190-200, and W. Hagen, Die Bauten des Deutschen Barocks 
1690-1770 (Leipzig, 1942), 99-107. The Augustusbrucke was 
demolished in 1907 and has since been replaced with a modern 

12. For a summary of Augustus's achievements in Dresden, see the 
discussion in the catalogue The Splendor of Dresden : Five Centuries of 
Art Collection (New Haven, 1978), 2iff., prepared for the exhibition 
held in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco in 1978 
and 1979. 

13. For Bruhl's biography, see Enciclopedia Italiana 7 (Rome, 1930), 
s. v. "Briihl, Heinrich"; and Der Grosse Brockhaus 2 (Wiesbaden, 
1953), s. v. "Briihl, Heinrich, Graf von . . ."; and O. E. Schmidt, 
Minister Graf Briihl und Karl Heinrich von Heinecken (iy})-iy6}) 
(Leipzig-Berlin, 1921). 

14. See E. Bonora, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 2 (Rome, i960), 
s. v. "Algarotti, Francesco"; and F. Haskell, Patrons and Painters: 
A Study in the Relations between Italian Art and Society in the Age of 
the Baroque (New York, 1963), 347-60. 

15. For Algarotti and Frederick, see Mitford, 76. 

16. See Haskell, 353; and M. Levey, "Tiepolo's 'Empire of Flora,'" 
The Burlington Magazine 99 (1957): 89-91. 

17. According to tradition, the invitation to Bellotto had first been 
offered to Canaletto, but when the latter refused, the younger 
and perhaps hardier nephew went in his place. See P.J. Mariette, 
Abecedario de . . . et autres notes inedites de cet amateur sur les arts et les 
artistes, ed. P. de Chennevieres and A. de Montaiglon (Paris: 
1851-53), 115. 

18. For a brief resume of Sartori's life, see the catalogue Da Carlevarijs 
ai Tiepolo, Incisori veneti e Jriulani del settecento (Venice, 1983), 350-53, 
prepared for the exhibition in Venice in 1983. 

19. See R. Wishnevsky, Dizionario biografico degli Italiani 24, s. v. 
"Chiaveri, Gaetano." 

20. For the Hofkirche, see Hempel, 199-200, and the same author's 
Gaetano Chiaveri, der Architekt der Katholischen Hofkirche zu Dresden 
(Dresden, 1955). 

21. See Kozakiewicz, Bernardo BeUotto, 1: 81-82. 

22. For Knoffel, see Hempel, 195. 

23. For the identifications of all the sites and buildings in Bellotto's 
works, as well as for the information given below on the where- 
abouts of the artist's paintings after the eighteenth century, I have 
relied on Kozakiewicz's masterly catalogue entries in vol. 2, and 
on his very informed discussions in vol. 1 of Bernardo Bellotto. 

24. Kozakiewicz, Bernardo BeUotto, 2: 108, writes that the identifications 
were first made by J. Hubner, in Verzeichnis der Koniglichen 
Gemdlde-Gallerie zu Dresden (Dresden, 1876). 

25. For a complete examination of the problem concerning the differ- 
ent series and versions, see Kozakiewicz, Bernardo BeUotto, 1: 836°. 

26. See Kozakiewicz, Bernardo BeUotto, 1: 102-3. 

27. Wishnevsky, Dizionario biografico degli Italiani 24, s. v. "Chiaveri, 

28. Both the versions in Dresden and Raleigh are signed and dated; 
q. v. fig. 17. 

29. Kozakiewicz expresses two conflicting points of view about this; 
(1) that Bellotto copied engravings made after the drawings (see his 
discussion in Bernardo Bellotto, 1: 92-3), and (2) that Bellotto knew 
the originals by Chiaveri himself (see the entries in vol. 2, p. 116, 
cat. no. 146, and pp. 122 and 127, cat. nos. 154 and 155). On this 
matter, see also his discussion in 1: 107-8. Several other versions of 
these two views, either by Bellotto or attributed to him, also exist. 
According to Kozakiewicz, there are two of the View with the 
Frauenkirche (vol. 2, cat. nos. 142, 143); according to Camesasca, 
there are seven (nos. 74A-E, 76, 77). Of the View with the 
Hofkirche, Kozakiewicz says there is but one replica (vol. 2, 
z_ 479). an opinion with which Camesasca agrees (no. 79A). 

30. Kozakiewicz, Bernardo Bellotto, 1: 85 and 103. 

Fig. i 

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), 

SiV William Pepperrell and His Family, 1778. 

Oil on canvas, 90 x 108 in., 

signed J S Copley P/ 1778 at lower left. 

North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Purchased with funds from the 

State of North Carolina. 52.9.8 


To be "Conspecuous in the Croud": 

John Singleton Copley's Sir William Pepperrell 

and His Family 

Margaretta M. Lovell 

In August 1774, two months after he had left his 
native Boston and scarcely a month after arriving in London, the city 
that would be his home for the second half of his remarkable career, 
the painter John Singleton Copley wrote to his younger half-brother, 
an aspiring artist, "you must be conspecuous in the Croud if you 
would be happy and great." 1 We sense that the astute Copley — who 
had pondered for many years the risks and rewards of challenging the 
English art establishment on its own ground — was recording his own 
intended plan of action as much as advising the provincial novice. A 
few days later Copley left London for a year's sojourn on the 
Continent, returning in the autumn of 1775. Almost immediately he 
moved into a house and studio on Leicester Square, "conspicuously" 
two doors up from that occupied by William Hogarth's widow and 
across the square from the home of Sir Joshua Reynolds, then presi- 
dent of the Royal Academy. 2 

Even in distant Boston Copley had been aware of 
the Royal Academy (founded 1768) and its important role in the 
education and professionalization of artists as well as in the opportu- 
nities its annual exhibitions afforded for public exposure and patron- 
age development. He sent paintings to the Royal Academy's spring 
exhibitions in 1776 and 1777 but received little notice until the spring 
of 1778, when he sent two canvases of decidedly conspicuous size (as 

North Carolina Museum of An Bullerin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. z 

John Singleton Copley, 
Watson and the Shark, 1778. 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 
gift of Mrs. George 
von Lengerke Meyer. 


well as a third single-figure work of the type for which 
he was well known in the colonies). Both of the large 
1778 canvases (one six-by-seven feet, the other seven- 
by-nine feet) were composed of multiple-figure groups 
and represented a decided departure for an artist who, 
until his emigration to England three years earlier, had 
virtually no experience in handling compositions of 
such size and complexity. Copley's anxiety concerning 
the management of multifigure groups is apparent in 
the relief he confided to his half-brother after his first 
recormoiter of English studios: "I find the practice of 
Painting [groups] or rather the means by which the 
composition is attained easyer than I thought it had 
been. The sketches are made from the life, and not 
only from figures singly, but often from groups. This 
you remember was [what I] have often talked of, and 
by this a great difficulty is removed that lay on my 
mind. "3 The rendering of multiple figures, disposed 
convincingly in space and enacting a mime that was 
coherent, original, and dynamic was new to Copley 
but it was, he knew, the essential characteristic of group 
portraiture (the genre he anticipated would sustain his 
livelihood) and history painting (the genre he hoped 
would bring him fame). 

Copley's offerings at the 1778 Royal Academy repre- 
sented only his second family group, Sir William Pepperrell 
and His Family (fig. 1), and his fourth attempt at history 
painting, Watson and the Shark (fig. 2). 4 Considering his 
novice status, it is remarkable that he should achieve 
so swiftly such competence, indeed such excellence, 
especially given the legendary slowness with which he 
labored at his craft. While The Pepperrell Family received 
only brief and disparaging notice by the critics, Watson 
was praised as "among the first performances in this 
exhibition" and launched his reputation. 5 

Overshadowed by the more prominent genre and 
public acclaim of Watson, the Pepperrell family portrait 
is nevertheless a key work in Copley's career, one that 
points to both the artist's and the patron's strategy for 
positioning themselves in a novel environment, and 
simultaneously, but less consciously, serves as an index 
to broader issues of social history including eighteenth- 
century Anglo-American narratives of family, childhood, 
time, and death. 

While for Copley the exhibition of The Pepperrell 
Family functioned as a kind of advertisement of his com- 
petence and availability in the genre that the English 

gentry were most wont to patronize, for William 
Pepperrell III the public presentation of his familial 
image served his own long-range purposes. Commis- 
sioned shortly after both Copley and the Pepperrells 
had emigrated from Boston to London, the painting 
preserves — or rather asserts — an image of the Pepperrell 
family that had scarcely ever existed and that certainly 
had altered irretrievably by the time the work was exe- 
cuted and exhibited in 1778. 6 That both artist and patron 
found it suitable to fictionalize the situation, to gloss 
over certain realities and hyperbolize others, not only 
suggests their willingness to ignore facts or to follow 
portrait conventions, but also points dramatically to 
the extraordinary power of the underlying family- 
structuring function of portraiture in the Anglo- 
American world. Not merely an idle public expression 
of pride or a display of personal beauty and worldly 
acquisitiveness, the eighteenth-century portrait was 
addressed primarily to family members, and it codified 
in an orderly manner horizontal relationships of power 
as well as vertical relationships of descent. For this 
reason most eighteenth-century American and English 
portraits were commissioned at the point of marriage, 
the birth of an heir, the attainment of majority, or a 
moment of singular achievement, marking these notable 
and potentially disruptive or contested changes in the 
family line, the family name, and family wealth among 
those families fortunate enough to have inheritable 
substance. 7 Pepperrell's family was one of substance. 
His maternal grandfather William Pepperrell II (fig. 3) 
(1696-1759) was a successful merchant in lumber and 
fish, and a soldier whose command at Louisburg was 
rewarded with a baronetcy (a unique distinction for 
a colonial family). William Pepperrell III, who adopted 
his grandfather's name on succeeding to his fortune in 
1759, had attended Harvard, done the Grand Tour, 
and consolidated the family fortunes by marrying the 
daughter of Isaac Royall, a member of the King's 
Council at Massachusetts, a rum merchant, and one 
of the wealthiest men in New England. 

Pepperrell commissioned this portrait after the birth 
of his heir (the cherubic figure whose umbilicus marks 
the center of the canvas), and shortly after the Crown 
granted his petition to revive the baronetcy awarded his 
grandfather, the hero of Louisburg, and to succeed to 
the title himself. 8 The image, then, is of a buoyant, 
stable, aristocratic, American household, presided over 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV. 1991 


Fig- 3 

John Smibert, 

Sir William Pepperrell, 1746. 

Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. 

by a statuesque maternal figure and an admiring, urbane 
baronet, a family in which the line has just been reele- 
vated in status and ensured of perpetuation by the birth 
of an heir. In reality, the child, William Pepperrell IV, 
was born in the turbulence and privation of Boston in 
July 1775, when British troops occupied the city, keep- 
ing an uneasy peace between Loyalists and revolution- 
aries^ The young mother, Elizabeth Royall Pepperrell, 
died three weeks after his birth. The prosperity and 
calm, the exuberant health and confidence with which 
Copley has endowed the family mask the grim reality of 
Elizabeth's death, Sir William's censure as a Loyalist by 
the York County Congress, the family's loss of its con- 
siderable fortune and revenues from the rents and profits 
of the confiscated Pepperrell lands, shipping, and lumber 
mills in New England, the anxiety of life in the rioting 
and bitterness of Boston before they emigrated in Febru- 
ary 1776, and the uncertainty of exile in the almost-alien 
environment of London. 10 

Copley's is a portrait in the subjunctive mode. It 
posits a "what if. . ." scenario, imaging the family as it 
might have been a year after young William's birth had 
war and financial loss, public animosity and death not 
robbed the Pepperrells of halcyon prospects on their 
Roxbury estate, funded by the immense wealth and 
landholdings amassed by Sir William's grandfather and 
great-grandfather in Maine. 11 For Sir William the por- 
trait functioned as an assertion of the salvageability of 
dignity, confidence, prosperity, normalcy, and familial 
wholeness in an uncertain exile that offered the widower 
and his family only limited prospects. As it happened, 
Sir William was pre-deceased by his heir, and the family 
fortunes (and Copley's portrait) devolved on Harriot, 
here imaged as a tot seated on a table and busily engaged 
in a game of skittles, later Lady Palmer, dowager- 
matriarch of Wanlip in Leicestershire. There the paint- 
ing hung until 1933, a graphic assertion of rules obeyed, 
conventions embraced, and continuity asserted in the 
teeth of rupture and loss, and a reminder to her descen- 
dants of the Pepperrells and their four-generation inter- 
lude as colonial Americans. 12 Seemingly stable and 
coherent, the narrative of the painting was inscribed by 
its author and patron within this unstable conjunction 
of modes and tenses, a wistful pantomime of history as 
it "will not have been." 

Copley's portrait includes six life-size figures and two 
dogs in a spatially ambiguous but stately setting. Brack- 
eted by such standard portrait conventions — one might 
call them visual cliches — as the drawn-back taffeta cur- 
tain and the glimpsed pastoral landscape, the baronet and 
his daughters gather on a colorful "turkey work" carpet 
around Lady Pepperrell and young William. Although 
Lady Pepperrell is a seated, still form, anchored in space 
by the white, insistently vertical column that silhouettes 
her head and marks her presence with permanence and 
resonance, all the other figures lean and stretch, their 
emphatic contingency and activity emphasizing her sta- 
bility and calm. Yet this centrality and gravity of deport- 
ment are not simply tributes to her as a cherished and 
dignified memory, nor are they characteristics resulting 
solely from the exigencies of an artist working from 
stand-in models, miniature portraits, and working draw- 
ings.^ The mother- as-cynosure was a well-established, 
socially significant visual conceit during this period, one 
pointing to a new seriousness, even sacredness, in the 
maternal role as custodian of the moral well-being of 
impressionable children. Similarly, Sir William's lean- 
ing posture, his crossed legs, his gentle touching of the 
baby's arm, and his focus of attention on his family are 
characteristic of father figures in Anglo-American family 
portraits of the period. 

Fig- 4 

Robert Feke, Isaac Royal and Family, 1741. 
Harvard Law School Art Collection, 
Cambridge, Mass. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV. 1991 


Fig- 5 

John Singleton Copley, 

Sir William Pepperrell and His Family (detail), 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 

The treatment of parental figures and children in 
family portraits differed markedly between the first and 
second halves of the eighteenth century. A brief glance 
at the portrait of Elizabeth's parents, Isaac Royall and 
Family by Robert Feke (fig. 4), painted almost forty 
years earlier, clarifies the dramatic character of this 
change. Where early in the century the child was stiff, 
the father dominant in his posture and address to the 
spectator, and the mother a quiet secondary figure, by 
the 1770s the infant twists and gambols, the father leans, 
touches, and looks at his brood, and the mother is 
given centrality, a self-involved seriousness, and visual 

Central to the portrait's composition and to its 
meaning is young William, pictured here as a robust 
toddler standing on his mother's lap, reaching and look- 
ing toward his father's face (fig. 5). His mother, father, 
and eldest sister touch, hold, and embrace him, encir- 
cling his young frame with security and affection. That 
his status in the picture and in the family is different 
from that of his sisters is indicated not only by his central 
position in the composition and the attention lavished 
on him by his kin, but also by his nudity. He is the only 
figure not wearing eighteenth-century age-specific and 
gender-specific clothing. A loose drapery suffices for 
modesty, but his otherwise rosy pink body provides a 
stark contrast to the tailored fabrics worn by the older 
members of the family. It is improbable that young 
William spent much time unclothed, and uncostumed 
infants are not common in eighteenth-century por- 
traits. '5 We can attribute Copley's presentation of 
young William then, to painterly allusion, recalling 
both the long tradition of the decorative classically 
inspired putto and the specific tradition of the Christ 
Child with the Madonna. 

But the most telling allusion in William's figure 
might be even more immediate. It is curious that while 
the surviving preparatory studies for this painting show 
variant positions for each of the other figures, the baby's 
outstretched right arm and upward gaze remain constant 
(figs. 6, 7). 16 Thus, though Copley struggled with the 
placement of the girls and the stance and gaze of the 
father, his concept of young William remained fixed 
from the start. He had tried earlier, in The Copley Family 
(fig. 8) to link youngsters to adults by their upward- 
reaching arms and gazes, but William's pose — more 
open and dynamic — is different. Indeed, it mimics the 

John Singleton Copley, 

Study for Sir William Pepperrell and His 

Family (Mother and Four Children), 1777-78. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 

M. and M. Karolik Collection of 

18th-century American Arts. 

Fig- 7 

John Singleton Copley, 

Study for Sir William Pepperrell and His 

Family (Mother and Two Children), 1777-78. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 

M. and M. Karolik Collection of 

18th-century American Arts. 

outstretched right arm and raised left knee of the 
nude Watson in Watson and the Shark (fig. 2), Copley's 
companion-piece for the Pepperrell portrait at the 
1778 Royal Academy exhibition. 

As Watson's pose and nudity reflect Copley's quick 
absorption of the principles of visual quotation, deliber- 
ately evoking the Hellenistic figure of the gladiator at 
the Villa Borghese, William's pose mimics and quotes 
Copley's own heroic Watson, subtly endowing his 
young frame with consequence and resonance. l 7 And 
the two images, radically different in their genre, tone, 
and impact, are, in a sense, subtly answering texts. While 
Watson hyperbolizes the agony and strain of a dramatic 
rescue at sea in the face of a savage attack, The Pepperrell 
Family images a more abstract triumph of continuity and 
life over loss, diminution, and death. Both canvases fo- 
cus on a gladiator-posed, male nude protagonist, whose 
reaching posture is answered by the leaning, straining, 
twisting forms of companions in contemporary cos- 
tume. In both images there is a single calm figure — 

Lady Pepperrell in The Pepperrell Family and the black 
seaman in Watson — whose centrality and stability pro- 
vides a telling foil for the contingency and turbulence 
of the other figures. These poised, thoughtful rather 
than active figures seem repositories not only of phys- 
ical calm but also of knowledge and perhaps empathy — 
they seem equipped to interpret as well as experience 
the lesson of the picture's event and thus, in seeing 
"beyond," act as models for the viewer. 

The viewer's attention is drawn into the Pepperrell 
family group by young Elizabeth, who, leaning on a 
footstool at her mother's knee, embraces her baby 
brother and casts a smiling glance directly at the specta- 
tor. Her gray-blue eyes solicit our attention, and her 
posture indicates where we should direct our gaze. 
Elizabeth (b. 1769), characterized as a toddler by her 
mother as "a very frolicsome body," is an ideal interme- 
diary; her winsome smile does much to draw in the 
viewer and temper the sobriety of her parents. 18 Her 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 8 

John Singleton Copley, 
The Copley Family, 1776-77. 
National Gallery of Art, 
Washington, D.C., 
Andrew W. Mellon Fund. 


dress — like those of her sisters — is white, of a thin, gauzy 
fabric. An abstract figure of a white, three-leafed sprig 
marks the surface, echoing the more substantial white, 
green, and pink floral buds that ornament her elaborate 
headdress. A transparent salmon-colored sash edged with 
gold, which trails from her waist, is picked up in an 
ostrich plume that tops off her elaborate cap, its pinkish 
hue repeated in both her mother's and her sister's less 
exotic headdresses. 

None of the figures wears jewelry (beyond the gold 
buckles on Sir William's shoes and knees, and the sin- 
gle strand of pearls in Lady Pepperrell's hair), but a tone 
of understated opulence is evident in the rich variety of 
textiles utilized throughout the composition. Indeed 
the painting includes a veritable lexicon of eighteenth- 
century textiles of English and foreign manufacture, 
including the elaborate "turkey work" carpet, a lush 
velvet tablecloth edged in a wide gold fringe, satin- 
weave silks (in Lady Pepperrell's dress, the drawn-back 
curtain, and Sir William's waistcoat), the delicate figured 
cottons of the girl's dresses, the handsomely finished 
wools of Sir William's coat, and the elaborate embroi- 
dered collar on young Elizabeth's dress. 

In his American portraits Copley had included mas- 
terfully portrayed still-life elements, but rarely did his 
range in tactile variety reach the demonstration-piece 
level of The Pepperrell Family. Here he has not only 
incorporated an unusual multitude of fabric types, but 
he has also devised novel techniques for their portrayal, 
notably the heavy impasto with which he picks out the 
gold fringe and the rich lace of Elizabeth's elaborate 
collar. The impasto interrupts the smooth fiction of the 
paint surface and insists on our attentive reading of these 
costly trims as sculpturally, physically present. Touch, 
thematized repeatedly in the image as each figure touch- 
es skin, costume, or inanimate object, is presented syn- 
thetically in the richly tactile passages of various textiles. 

Unlike William, whose centrality is marked by his 
difference from the others in the family, Elizabeth's role 
as intermediary is marked by reiteration. She initiates 
us into the picture and introduces each character in the 
family drama. Young Elizabeth is linked to her mother 
by proximity and by the repetition of a transparent, vio- 
let, gold-figured cloth in the fichu at the elder woman's 
neck and in her young namesake's cap. She is linked to 
her brother by touch, her sisters by dress, and her father 
by a parallel, inward-leaning posture. Elizabeth's gaze 

breaks the genre-fiction of the tableau and reminds us 
that the image is a performance, an enactment com- 
pleted only by the presence of an audience. And this 
audience is both the general one of the commissioning 
Pepperrell family over time and the specific one of the 
1778 Royal Academy viewers. The tertiary audience that 
we constitute — as strangers two centuries later who find 
the painting both legible and obscure — is necessarily dis- 
tanced. And yet Elizabeth breaks through that distance 
and implores our attention to the facts and fictions of 
the tableau she eagerly presents. 

In a photograph of the image, Elizabeth's role is cen- 
tral. Standing before the painting itself, one is equally 
aware of a competing gaze — that of the dignified sprin- 
ger spaniel on the far left. The spaniel's attention is riv- 
eted on the viewer, and his eye level is only slightly 
below the viewer's own, which hovers about the table- 
top even when the enormous canvas is hung as low as 
possible. In the eighteenth century the painting was 
almost certainly hung higher, and the presence of the 
two dogs was even more evident. Our attention is 
drawn to this corner of the canvas and away from the 
central action by the bright shiny lock that closes the 
larger dog's collar and by the black King Charles spaniel, 
who gazes alertly away from the family and toward 
his canine companion. 

Copley had used pets in earlier portraits to help 
characterize sitters — indeed, he included a small King 
Charles spaniel in his portrait of Lady Pepperrell and her 
sister, done when they were girls twenty years earlier 
(fig. 9). In most such images, the pets help direct our 
gaze toward the sitters' faces or hands; here they draw 
our attention to a peripheral corner. But this is strategy 
and not accident, for it is here, just to the left of the pre- 
cisely and brightly delineated collar padlock — one of the 
brightest spots on the canvas — that we find Copley's 
oversized signature. In his campaign to be "conspec- 
uous" at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1778 Copley, 
who had signed fewer than a quarter of his American 
portraits, took care to sign prominently both this and 
the Watson paintings, announcing his authorship and 
availability. Guarding the "J S Copley Phnxit] / 1778" 
inscription, the larger spaniel with his steady dignified 
gaze plays the role of the artist's intermediary, while 
Elizabeth is the family's. They solicit our attention and 
regard, and ask us to collaborate in constructing the 
archetypal domestic fiction and in acknowledging 
its authorship. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 9 

John Singleton Copley, 
Mary Macintosh Royall and Elizabeth 
Royall, 1758. Museum of Fine Arts, 
Boston, Julia Knight Fox Fund. 

Balancing the spaniels on the opposite side of the 
family group (and marking the third angle of a carefully 
structured triangle whose other corners are marked 
by the heads of Sir William and his stately brown-and- 
white spaniel), Mary ("Polly," b. 1771) and Harriot 
(b. 1773) concentrate on a game of table skittles. Mary 
stands on a footstool similar to that on which her 
mother's foot rests. It is upholstered in a green velvet, 
matching the fabric used in the opulent gold-fringed 
cloth that tumbles in disorderly elegance from the 
mahogany table on which young Harriot sits and which 
is the site of their game. The table and footstools are 
unusual in their sharply tapering legs, and their matte 
surface suggests that Copley — who made much of 
gleaming polished mahogany in his American portraits, 
but avoided this effect, beyond the table corner evident 
here, in his English pictures — had already internalized 
the British dictum to suppress furniture in the interest of 
textiles. Indeed, the disarray of the tablecloth — caused, 
we presume, within the fiction of the image, by the 

children's activities — gives the artist an opportunity to 
display a virtuoso passage of drapery painting, and gives 
the Pepperrells an opportunity to suggest the financial 
power evident in its deeply piled surface and extravagant 
gold edge, picked out in dazzling and emphatic impasto. 
The disorder into which this cloth has tumbled is negli- 
gible in the sphere of domestic concerns to which it 
refers. It is easily put to rights. Yet the deeper disorder 
at the heart of this domestic circle — the absence of the 
dead mother — is seamed over, denied. A chaos of cloth 
is permissible because manageable, a chaos in human 
relations is unimaginable and unpicturable. 

Within the fiction of the image, the tablecloth, 
pulled so negligently from its place, preserves yet one 
small island of smooth, horizontal, geometrically pre- 
cise surface, and it is here that the girls assert order and 
pattern over disorder as they place their neatly turned 
vertical pieces. By the late eighteenth century the game 
of skitdes, ninepins, or kayles, as it was variantly called, 
already had had a long history. The modern game of 
bowling suggests the scale on which the pieces were 
usually made, but miniature sets, such as the one in use 
here, were also popular. r 9 In Mary and Harriot's game 
one piece stands, two are being placed, and two lie fallen 
on the velvet. The other four pieces are perhaps covered 
by the girls' skirts. That the pieces must be placed with 
care in an understood pattern is evident from the girls' 
concentration. That the object of the game is to oblit- 
erate the pattern with an artfully thrown ball (here dor- 
mant and innocent on a fold of cloth near Mary) we 
know from common cultural experience. The game 
suggests cyclical rounds of pattern and chaos, order and 
disorder. Like the disorder of the cloth, disorder among 
the skittles pins is permissible, controllable, diagram- 
mable, and paintable, unlike the infinitely more open- 
ended and threatening disorder of domestic upheaval, 
loss of patrimony, and loss — in the painting's metaphoric 
language — of its pillar of stability. The game is included 
here not only because eighteenth-century children had 
more games and playthings than ever before, and Copley 
is diligent in including them in his family portraits, but 
also because, for the Pepperrells, an alternate universe 
in which action is predictable and chaos mendable was 
important. 20 The portrait itself performs this function 
on a large scale, positing rules of inheritance, domestic 
normalcy, and financial security for a family unsure of 
all three. Copley sets his figures as Mary and Harriot set 


their humanoid-shaped pins into a culturally understood, 
stable pattern of relationships, asserting and freezing 
them on canvas as though the bowler Fate had not 
already obliterated the pattern by death and revolution. 

That Copley's painting is a fiction, a halcyon vision 
of a time that never was, is emphasized by its spatial 
ambiguities. Most American eighteenth-century portraits 
place the figures in a furnished room, the wall of which 
opens with an unglazed window onto a landscape. 
Eighteenth-century English portraits, on the other hand, 
often place sitters out-of-doors, and here we see Copley 
partially accommodating this custom by positioning the 
Pepperrells in a liminal zone, on an imagined veranda 
or portico, its massive scale indicated by the central 
anchoring pillar. While the "indoor" architectural space 
is articulated on the right of the image and underfoot by 
massive draperies, a grand carpet, and drawing room 
furniture, the exterior space described on the left side of 
the image presents — seemingly on the same level — an 
"outdoor" tapestry of picturesque trees and dappled 
lawn. The picture space on the right is shallow; that on 
the left is deep. The primary character of the space 
on the right is marked by a white, geometrically precise 
marble column, that on the left by a dark, irregular 
curving tree as congruent with Sir William's leaning 
posture as the column is with Lady Pepperrell's alert 
verticality. The Active nature of this pictorial space is 
underscored by a discontinuity in the light between 
foreground-interior and background-exterior. A strong, 
midday, semidiffused fight washes the foreground 
figures, its source high over the painter/viewer's left 
shoulder. Yet the deep recession of the distant landscape 
displays the long shadows of late afternoon. Indeed, the 
sky above the most distant copse is already tinged by 
the violet hues of a setting sun. Just below this softly 
chromatic sky a single tree displays yellow foliage, 
suggesting an autumnal season and an early frost within 
the yet-green lushness of the loosely brushed 
middleground landscape. Here in the pastel sunset and 
the distant autumnal tree Copley has interjected a 
quietly elegiac note within the context of an image 
that otherwise asserts normalcy, hope, and promise. 

For both Copley and Pepperrell, this portrait signaled 
the hopeful repatriation to Great Britain of their re- 
emigrating families with more skills, greater financial 
power, and a more gentrified social position than their 
emigrating parents (in the case of Copley) and great- 

grandparents (in the case of Pepperrell) . The move- 
ment of both families was from the periphery (the 
Singletons and the Copleys from western Ireland, and 
the Pepperrells from Revelstoke on the Devonshire 
coast) to the center, London, by way of the colonies. 21 
And this point of arrival that was in fact a rearrival is 
an integral part of the creation and our understanding 
of this portrait. Pepperrell, whose great-grandfather 
William Pepperrell I had left England an illiterate 
orphaned fisherman apprentice, was returning with a 
baronetcy, a potential fortune, an heir, and a bevy 
of soon-to-be-marriageable daughters. 22 It was, at the 
time, unclear which side would win the war, and the 
enormous fortune amassed by his predecessors was still 
potentially recoverable. 2 3 But his bid for an established 
social and financial status for his family line and for 
his nuclear family was eclipsed by the failure of Britain 
to win the war and of the United States to reimburse 
Loyalists afterward, by the paucity of the Crown's 
reparation of Loyalist claims, and by the death of his 
only son (long an invalid) without issue in 1809. 2 4 The 
moment of hope, of possibility in the teeth of death 
and revolution, captured by the painting soon faded to 
a bitter memory, and Sir William spent his final years 
in the self-imposed isolation of a misanthropic exile, 
withdrawn even from the eager gestures of his less- 
defeated daughters. 2 5 

Copley's hope for the painting — the expectation 
that it would win approval and bring him further 
commissions — was similarly dashed when the work 
received disparaging notice in the press as "a mere 
daubing," a response, perhaps, to his determined 
inclusion of virtuoso passages of every conceivable type 
of textile: satin, velvet, sheer cottons, couleur changeante 
silks, embroidered figures, and tassels of gold thread. 26 
Although he received significant subsequent commis- 
sions for single-figure portraits, it was almost a decade 
before he undertook another family group. On the 
other hand, the praise lavished on Watson and the Shark, 
his other 1778 Royal Academy offering, served, no 
doubt, to reinforce his ambition to earn fame and 
fortune in this more complex, more highly valued, 
and more "conspecuous" genre. 

Although it failed to establish Copley's reputation as 
a group portraitist, Sir William Pepperrell and His Family 
gave Copley valuable practice in composing multi-figure 
canvases, practice he would utilize in his history paint- 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin. Volume XV, 1991 


ings, especially when he began to include portraits of 
participants in his distinctive modernization of the 
genre. Copley's hybrid historical works, incorporating 
recognizable physiognomies within pantomimes describ- 
ing topical momentous events, engaged a large portion 
of his English career and won him the acclaim he so 
purposefully pursued. To this success the Pepperrell 
portrait made a certain — if indirect — contribution. 

From the point of view of the Pepperrells, the 
portrait no doubt functioned as a useful fiction, a 
document of confidence and wholeness in the face of 
calamitous upheaval. Both to the surviving figures — 
Sir William, young Elizabeth, Mary, and Harriot — 
and to Harriot's descendants, who observed it in the 
background of their quotidian lives among the 
squirearchy in Leistershire at Wanlip — it diagrammed 
a cohesive family unit. It documented a longed-for 
memory of a moment that never was, but which gave 
order, pattern, and identity to a tumultous chapter 
in their shared history. 

For the contemporary viewer, reading the painting's 
surface, decoding its patterns, and deriving pleasure from 
its success as an artfully constructed composition, Sir 
William Pepperrell and His Family documents norms of 
behavior and of relationship that belong to a specific era 
and a specific concept of the unitary family. It suggests 
— with the basic motif of the game — that rules and 
conventions are shared and operational. Yet the tumbled 
tablecloth and the stretching contingent figure of the 
infant heir in his heroic nudity incorporate a counter- 
metaphor of disorder, imbalance, and vulnerability. 
This tension between basic metaphoric systems is as 
important and as telling in the image as its well-seamed 
junctures between fiction and verisimilitude. Although 
the painting might have proved a failure for Copley 
in his bid for family portraiture commissions and for 
Pepperrell as an appropriate announcement of his 
family's second coming to ancestral turf, it is clearly — 
from the perspective of two centuries — a successful 
encoding of central cultural, as well as personal, 
preoccupations, desires, and memories. 

Margaretta M. Lovell is Dittman Professor of 
American Studies, College of William and Mary, 
Williamsburg, Virginia. 


Commissioned 1778 by Sir William Pepperrell, London; to 
daughter Harriot, wife of Sir Charles Thomas Palmer, Bart., 
Wanlip, County Leicester; by descent in Palmer family until 1933; 
[J. Rochelle Thomas, Georgian Galleries, London, 1934]; William 
Randolph Hearst, St. Donat's Castle, Wales, 1935; [Mallett & Son, 
London]; |Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London, 1952]; [Scott 
and Fowles, New York, April 1952]; acquired by the North 
Carolina Museum of Art from Scott and Fowles, 1952. 

Select Exhibitions 

London, Royal Academy, 1778, no. 63 (as A family; whole length). 

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, "John Singleton 
Copley, 1738-1815," 18 September-31 October 1965, then traveling, 
no. 66, illus. 

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "American 
Portraiture in the Grand Manner, 1720-1920," 12 November 
1981-31 January 1982, no. 16, illus. 

Select Bibliography 

Howard, Cecil Hampden Cutts. "The Pepperrell Portraits." 
Historical Collections of the Essex Institute 31 (1894-95): 54-65. 

Valentiner, W. R. North Carolina Museum of Art: Catalogue of 
Paintings Including Tlwee Sets of Tapestries. Raleigh, 1956. 40, no. 9. 

Prown, Jules David. John Singleton Copley, 2 vols. Cambridge, 
Mass., 1966. 2: 264-67, 315, 318, 363, 428; figs. 356, 357-361. 

Browne -Wilkinson, Virginia. Pepperrell Posterity. Privately printed, 
1982. 126, pi. 15. 

Lovell, Margaretta M. "Reading Eighteenth-Century American 
Family Portraits." Winterthur Portfolio 22 (Winter 1987): 243-64, 
252, 254, fig. 13. 


1. John Singleton Copley to Henry Pelham, 17 August 1774, in 
Letters and Papers of John Singleton Copley and Henry Pelham, 
Massachusetts Historical Society Collections 71, ed. Guernsey 
Jones (Boston, 1914), 240-41, cited by Prown, 2: 246. 

2. Prown, 2: 259. 

3. Copley to Henry Pelham, 15 July 1774, cited by Prown, 2: 245-46. 

4. Preceded by Tlie Ascension, 1775 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), 
Priam Beseeching Achilles for the Body of Hector, 1776 (lost), and The 
Nativity, 1776-77 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and The Copley 
Family, 1776-77 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) 
(fig. 8). 

5. Quoted by Prown, 2: 267. 

6. Browne -Wilkinson, 126. 

7. See Margaretta M. Lovell, "Painters and Their Customers: 
Aspects of Art and Money in Eighteenth-Century America," in 
Of Consuming Interest: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century, ed. 
Cary Carson and Ronald Hoffman (Charlottesville, Va., 1991). 

8. William Pepperrell II (1696-1759), merchant of Kittery, Maine, 
was honored by a baronetcy in 1746 as a result of his successful 


command in the seige of Louisburg in 1745; his son, Andrew, died 
childless; Sir William made provision in his will that his daughter's 
son, William Pepperrell Sparhawk (1746-1816) succeed to his 
estates, provided he assume his grandfather's name; he thereafter is 
known as William Pepperrell III, and figures in the title of this 
painting as Sir William Pepperrell. He was created baronet in 1774 
and died in 1816 when the baronetcy became, once again, extinct 
(see G. E. Cokayne, ed., Complete Baronetage, vol. 5, 1707-1800 
[Exeter, 1906]). 

9. Browne -Wilkinson, 113— 15. 

10. Ibid., 112-13, 116. 

11. Ibid., 4-23. 

12. Ibid., 134-203. 

13. Anna Wells Rutledge, "American Loyalists: A Drawing for a 
Noted Copley Group," Art Quarterly 20 (Summer 1957): 195-201; 
Prown, 2: 265, figs. 357-360; Browne -Wilkinson, 126. 

14. See Lovell, "Reading Eighteenth-Century American Family 
Portraits," 243-64. 

15. For another example see Benjamin West, Arthur Middleton, His 
Wife, Mary (nee Izard), and Their Son, Henry, 1700-1771 (private 
collection, on loan to Middleton Place Foundation, Charleston, 

16. See Prown, vol. 2, figs. 357-61: 

1. A study for the group composed of Mrs. Pepperrell and the four 
children; black and white chalk on blue-gray grounded paper, 

11K x 17X in. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, M. and M. Karolik 
Collection) (fig. 6; Prown, fig. 359). 

2. A study for the entire composition, including a black servant 
behind the two girls on the right; black, white, and red chalk on 
white paper, 17 x 21X in. (sight), coll. of Commander Peter Du 
Cane, Haselbech Grange, Northhampton, England, in 1966 
(Prown, fig. 357). 

3. A study for Mrs. Pepperrell and young William; black and 
white chalk on pinkish-bufF paper, 17K x 13X in. (Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston, M. and M. Karolik Collection) (fig. 7; Prown, 
fig. 360). 

4. A study for the entire composition, very similar in composition 
to the painting, except the pose of Sir William; black and white 
chalk on white paper, 17 x 21 in. (sight), coll. of Baron Aberdare, 
London, in 1966 (Prown, fig. 358). 

5. A study for the figure of Sir William Pepperrell; black and white 
chalk on buff paper, 17K x io 7 A in. (Victoria and Albert Museum, 
London) (Prown, fig. 361). 

17. See Prown, 2: 271-74, fig. 379. The figure's inversion is 
attributable to Copley's use of a print source. 

18. Browne -Wilkinson, 95. 

19. Mrs. F. Nevill Jackson, Toys of Other Days (New York, 1968), 
161-62; Claude Tchou and Rene Alleau, eds., Dictionnaire des feux 
(n.p.: Musee de l'Histoire de l'Education, 1964), 425-27. 

20. See The Copley Family (fig. 8), The Sitwell Family, 1786 (private 
collection), and The Knatchbull Family, 1800-1802 (private 

21. Prown, 1: 7; Browne -Wilkinson, 4-7, 10. 

22. Browne -Wilkinson, 4-5. 

23. Sir William was the president of the Loyalist Association and the 

Board of Agents, organizations of expatriate American loyalists 
designed to further the interests and prosecute the claims of 
members. Browne -Wilkinson, 122-24. 

24. Browne -Wilkinson, 124, 219-20. Pepperrell's total claim was for 
£35, 702.3. 8 for house, farms, mills, lands, furnishings, and unpaid 

25. Browne -Wilkinson, 155-56. 

26. Critic writing in the Morning Post, 25 April 1778, in "Cuttings 
from English Newspapers on Matters of Artistic Interest, 
1686-1835" (London, n. d.), 1: 160. Cited by Prown, 2: 267-68. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. i 

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), 
Ralph Bell, 1771. 
Oil on canvas, 92/, x 6i/» in. 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 
Purchased with funds from the State 
of North Carolina and the 
North Carolina Art Society 
(Robert F. Phifer Bequest). 5Z.9.70 


A Case of Mistaken Identity: 
Thomas Gainsborough's Ralph Bell 

Hugh Belsey 

On 23 March 1772, Ralph Bell of Thirsk in 
North Yorkshire set out on a journey 250 miles southwest to Bath. 
The trip took five days, and his arrival on 1 April was announced in 
the Bath Journal: "Arrived here . . . M.r and Miss Bell." 1 A cursory 
note in Bell's diary records, "return'd from Bath home May the 16." 2 
Ralph Bell is all but silent about his six-week visit to the city. The 
shops were second only to those in London in the range and quality 
of goods they offered, and he took the opportunity of increasing his 
wardrobe by purchasing "a laid hat & crimson suit, 2 suits of Bath 
Beaver [and] a shooting Hat."3 To him nothing else seemed impor- 
tant enough to record in his diary. His reticence is surprising, for 
during his stay in Bath, Ralph Bell took the opportunity to commis- 
sion and sit for a portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. The full-length 
portrait, which until recently was misidentified as a portrait of John 
Scrimgeour, is now in the North Carolina Museum of Art (fig. i).4 

The portrait shows a bluff, thick-set man of fifty- 
two strolling in a landscape. Standing on an ill-defined pathway with 
hills in the distance, trees on the right, and a river far below him to 
the left, he is silhouetted against heavy clouds. His attention has been 
momentarily caught by something beyond the edge of the canvas, 
and he pauses to take a pinch of snuff. The low horizon has enabled 
the artist to contrast the head against a typically overcast west- 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 2. 

Anthony van Dyck, 
Portrait of Sir John Suckling, c. 1637-38. 
Frick Collection, New York. 
Copyright the Frick Collection, 
New York. 

country sky. It also provides a certain grandeur and 
anticipates the probable hanging position of the paint- 
ing, four or five feet from the floor. The pause on 
a country walk, the portrayal of the sitter during a 
momentary lapse of attention, and the use of sky can 
all be seen in many other portraits by Gainsborough. 

Gainsborough's portrait of Bell shows the influence 
of a seventeenth-century prototype. A year or so before 
the artist decided to leave his native Suffolk in the east 
of England and settle in Bath, he had traveled westward 
to undertake a commission for the Earl of Jersey at 
Middleton Park in Oxfordshire. On the same trip he 
had an appointment at Hartwell Park, near Aylesbury. 
There he painted a pair of head-and-shoulder portraits 
of Mr. and Mrs. William Lee. Surprisingly, the receipt 
for the portraits is preserved in the Eastlake Library 
at the National Gallery in London. It reads: "April 19th 
1759. Reed of William Lee Esq, the sum of sixteen 
guineas in full for a portrait of Mrs. Lee and another 
of himself. £16-16. Tho. Gainsborough. "5 

Presumably his visit was long enough for him to 
study the picture collection at Hartwell. And William 
Lee's collection included a particularly fine example 
of early seventeenth-century portraiture, Sir Anthony 
Van Dyck's Portrait of Sir John Suckling (fig. 2). 6 The 
unsurpassed stature of the Flemish artist as the painter par 
excellence of the English aristocracy in the halcyon days 
of the seventeenth century would naturally have drawn 
Gainsborough's attention. 

But Gainsborough's portrait of Bell is not merely 
a slavish updating of Van Dyck's portrait of Suckling. 
Unlike the Van Dyck, Gainsborough's piece has the easy 
naturalness resulting from the artist's close and accurate 
observation of his sitter's movements and behavior as 
well as of his physical appearance. And more obviously, 
the two works differ in the poses of the sitters. Over- 
hanging rocks in the Suckling portrait and the overcast 
sky in that of Bell emphasize the sitters' heads, but the 
manner in which this is done underlines the artists' 
different approaches. Bell's hands, especially his left 
hand, are closer to those of Van Dyck's Portrait of Jane 
Goodwin, Lady Wharton, which was at Houghton in 
Gainsborough's time.7 Van Dyck's sitter stands on a 
loggia toying with drapery with a glimpse of landscape 
beyond. In Gainsborough's work the figure is in a 
natural landscape. 


Gainsborough was more successful than any other 
English painter in linking his sitters with the landscape, 
which he often used as background. Two other portraits 
dating from about the same year as the Bell painting 
provide interesting comparisons. The portraits of Abel 
Moysey, M.P. (exhibited at Gainsborough's House, 
Sudbury) and Dr. Ralph Schomberg (National Gallery, 
London) also show professional men pausing on a 
country walk high above an imaginary river valley. 8 
All three subjects wear a stock, shirt, waistcoat, coat, 
breeches, stockings, and buckled shoes. All three hold 
canes and hats. Bell's descendants still preserve his cane 
and shoe buckles. 

Of the three, the Moysey portrait captures the most 
movement (fig. 3). Like the stationary moment of a 
swinging pendulum, the sitter's pose is caught as he 
shifts his weight from one leg to the other. He rests his 
cane on his shoulder like a billiard cue and holds a hat in 
his left hand, making the line of the taut left side of his 
body restless. Gainsborough clearly enjoyed offsetting 
the counterpoint of the silhouette with the formation 
of jagged rocks and foliage on the right. That and the 
diagonals of the body set against the calm sweep of the 
landscape behind give a tension to the composition. 9 

In comparison, Schomberg is more poised (fig. 4). He 
stands against an almost identical landscape. The brown 
foliage at the bottom right, as in the Moysey painting, 
sets off the skirts of the sitter's coat, and the gentle curve 
of the rock above is continued in the sitter's right fore- 
arm. These features help to unite figure with back- 
ground. Ralph Bell's likeness is midway between the 
moods of these two portraits. 

In the Bell portrait, sitter and landscape are connected 
by the green branches on the right cradling the sitter's 
left elbow and the white cloud to the left emphasizing 
the linen cuffs and the nervous activity of the sitter's 
hands. Gainsborough was obviously worried about the 
profile of the figure, and as x-ray photographs show, 
he experimented with the outline before arriving at the 
effect that most satisfied him. As in the Schomberg 
portrait, the cane provides an anchor, which is further 
emphasized by the verticality of the watch fob peeping 
from beneath his waistcoat. In comparison with both the 
Moysey and Schomberg portraits, the background in 
the Bell portrait seems unfinished. The background, as 
one might expect, would be the last part of the painting 
to be completed. The sitter would be present when 

F«g- 3 

Thomas Gainsborough, 

Portrait of Abel Moysey, M.P., c. 1771. 

Exhibited at Gainsborough's House, 


North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV. 1991 


Fig- 4 

Thomas Gainsborough, 

Portrait of Dr. Ralph Schomberg, c. 1770-71. 

National Gallery, London. 

Gainsborough blocked in the main compositional 
forms of the portrait; he would be there when the artist 
worked on the head. But the clothes and background 
were generally finished later on, and in Gainsborough's 
case that could be several years later. 10 

Sadly, it is not known when Bell received delivery 
of the portrait. It may well have languished in the artist's 
studio in the Circus in Bath until the artist decided to 
move to London late in 1774. Busy with moving house, 
Gainsborough may have been less inclined to complete 
the portrait to his usual standard of finish. Conjecture 
perhaps, but only by the end of 1774 had Ralph Bell 
finished altering his house so that it could do justice to 
such a grand portrait. 

The portrait of Bell was destined for the Hall at 
Thirsk (fig. 5). Ralph Bell's great-uncle, also called 
Ralph, had purchased the manor from John Poole of 
Liverpool and Henry Gill of Burscough, who were 
acting as agents for James, Earl of Derby, and attempting 
to rationalize the nobleman's estates. Although resident 
in Sowerby, about three miles to the east of Thirsk, 
Ralph Bell had been Member of Parliament for the 
town in three successive elections of 1710, 1713, and 1715. 
Two years later he became a Customer of the port of 
Hull, a lucrative position that enabled him to pay 
£6,300 for the manor of Thirsk on 14 January 1722. 11 
At his death in 1735, the estate passed to his nephew, the 
son of his sister Elizabeth Consett. Upon his inheritance, 
anxious for continuity, the family was renamed Bell. His 
son Ralph, who was baptized at Thirsk on 12 October 
1720, was the visitor to Bath in 1772, and it was he who 
sat for Gainsborough. 

Later members of the family were not as successful in 
obtaining public appointments, but the younger Ralph's 
marriage settlement provided increased income. Ralph's 
father-in-law, John Conyers, gave notice of his intention 
in a note dated 9 March 1761: "In Consideration [of 
the] Marriage intended to be shortly solemniz'd between 
Ralph Bell the younger of Thirsk in the County of 
York Esquire & my Daughter Ann, I promise to pay 
to the said Ralph Bell during the joint Lives of him & 
my said Daughter a Moiety of full half of the clear 
Rents and profits of all the Messuages Cottages Lands 
Tenements Hereditamints lying & being in Scarbor- 
ough, Rillington Kilham Hunmanby & Bonwick 
in the said County . . . being late the Estate of my 
dec'd wife." 12 

4 8 

Furthermore, John Conyers's elder brother George, 
a London apothecary, in his will dated 15 November 
1770, bequeathed a sum of £2,000 to his niece, Ann 
Bell. 1 } So at the death of his father late in 1770, Ralph 
Bell was in a strong financial position. At that time 
Thirsk Hall was an undistinguished two-story, five-bay 
house situated next to the church, on the outskirts of the 
town. Bell family tradition states that Ralph's wife, Ann 
Conyers, the provider of the family's newfound wealth, 
found Thirsk Hall particularly inadequate and pressed 
her husband to make substantial alterations. He was 
quick to approach the Yorkshire architect, John Carr, 
and decided to add another story to the central block 
and wings at either side. Because a full set of accounts 
dating from 1771 to 1775 exist, it is possible to chart 
the progress of the improvements to the building. '4 

John Carr was not a surprising choice of architect 
for a man like Bell with new wealth and status. Carr's 
practice was centered in York. Although he had no 
formal training in architecture and never traveled to the 
Continent, his restrained Palladianism served his north- 
country clients well. Generations of his family had 
owned stone quarries in the west of Yorkshire near 
Wakefield, and like them John had originally trained 
as a stone mason. His father was appointed a surveyor 
of bridges in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and his 
mother, Rose Lascelles, was a gentleman's daughter, 
which provided useful contacts. Before the death of his 
father, John Carr had already taken the lead in designing 
buildings, and by 1757 he had moved to York. He 
became established as a designer of houses for gentry 
throughout the region. His personal popularity and 
charm helped him to become Lord Mayor of York in 
both 1770 and 1785, and his financial success eventually 
enabled him to purchase an estate at Askham Richard 
just outside the city. '5 

The first interim account of work on Thirsk Hall 
is dated 6 October 1774 and includes making "the 
plans of the Old house, and the new Wings and all the 
parts thereof at large for the workmen, and making all 
the drawings for the chimney pieces, Bases, Surbases 
Architraves and all the other drawings for the Joyners, 
Plaisterers &c and measuring of their several works, 
and giving all the necessary directions for the proper 
execution of the work for 3 l A years from June 8: 1771. 
The whole designs drawings and directions included 
at 30 Guins. a year £110-55-0." Separate accounts, 

Fig. 5 

Thirsk Hall, east front. The wing 
on the right-hand side includes the 
dining room where the Gainsborough 
portraits hung. 

endorsed by Carr's signature, are submitted for "the 
Masonry . . . by John Peacock. In Building the New 
Wings and Rising the House." Peacock's bill is dated 28 
February 1773, and those for carving by Robert Blaksley 
and plastering by James Henderson are both dated 2 
November 1774. A Mr. Dodesworth was also used as 
a tradesman, but his separate bill no longer exists. 

The final payment was the subject of some embar- 
rassment, and Carr had to use all his diplomacy and 
charm. He had made an erroneous calculation and 
writes from York on 18 February 1775: 

I have not words to express the sense of Gratitude 
which I feel at your sending back my Bill, as I 
could not from my own find out where the Error 
was. I herewith return the Bill just as it was, from 
which you will in a moment see where the mistake 
was. You will observe that 

the Total of the Bill is £ s d 

289 "7 "8 

And I had received 

of you sometime since just 57 "o "o 

Subtract 57/j from £ s d 
289 "7 "8 

and you will find the Balance is 232 

And in my Bill it is only put down £132:7:8 
In that I fell short of the right sum just £100: — 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


Fig. 6 

Thomas Gainsborough, 
Portrait of Ann (Conyers), 
Mrs. Ralph Bell, c. 1775-78. 
Private collection, England. 

You will please to observe I have not altered a figure 
in the Bill, but at the bottom thereof have shown 
that the Error was in Subtracting the fifty seven 
pounds from the whole sum — and that Error is 100 
pounds in my favour, which I am very sorry shoud 
have hap[pe]ned in my account to you, but I am 
very happy that it has hap[pe]ned in the hands of a 
Gentleman who I am confident will take no advan- 
tage of it, but will I hope excuse it, remit the balance 
when it is convenient. 

Perhaps Bell's tardy payment four months later indi- 
cated his displeasure. The same letter is endorsed: "July 
12th 1775 Received from Ralph Bell Esqr. One hundred 
pounds." Despite his understandable irritation with the 
accounts, Bell had every reason to be pleased with his 
enlarged house. 

The largest sums of money were lavished on the 
"Great Dining Room" in the new north wing. The 
marble chimney piece cost .£52.10 and a detailed list 
of architectural carving by Robert Blaksley, costing 
£30.8.5, appears in his account dated 2 November 1774. 
Henderson, who is responsible for much of the plaster- 
work in Carr's houses, charged a total of £158. 9. 10 for 
plastering in the north wing, which included .£74.12.4 
for "484 feet of Ornamental Cieling Consisting of 
Foliage, Tropheys, of Different sorts; Vases, Shields, 
swags of Husks and all Compart moldings &c" in the 
"Great Dining Room." 16 It was in this room that 
Gainsborough's portrait of Ralph Bell was to hang. 

After the portrait of 1772 was installed in the dining 
room, Mrs. Bell decided to sit for Gainsborough herself 
(fig. 6)}7 Unfortunately, the date of her visit to the 
artist's new studio at Schomberg House in Pall Mall, 
London, is unrecorded, but it must have taken place in 
the middle years of the 1770s. 

Although the two Bell portraits were not designed 
to be hung together, they were placed on either side of 
the chimney piece in the dining room. 18 An anonymous 
note in a periodical of 1866 brought the two portraits 
to the attention of a wider public, 1 ? and both paintings 
were included in the Gainsborough retrospective exhi- 
bition at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1885. 20 
The increasing regard for the artistic and financial value 
of Gainsborough's work encouraged the owners to sell 
the paintings, and in November 1897 the London dealers 
Thomas Agnew and Sons purchased the portraits from 

a J. H. Ward, who must have been acting for the Bell 
family. 21 The vendor, Reginald Bell, a descendant of the 
sitter, commissioned copies to hang at Thirsk Hall from 
Stephen Richards, a self-described painting restorer 
about whom almost nothing is known. 22 

Agnew's eventually passed the Gainsborough portraits 
on to another dealer, Forbes and Paterson, in May 1901. 
Both works appeared at Christie's on 19 May 1911, still 
correctly identified as portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Bell. 2 3 A 
lawyer, John Scrimgeour, bought the male portrait, and 
his descendants sold it at Sotheby's in 1953. The portrait 
passed to the New York dealer Clyde Newhouse, where 
the former owner's name was confused with that of 
the sitter and the true identity of Gainsborough's client 
was lost. The Bell portrait was purchased by the North 
Carolina Museum of Art soon afterward. 

Subsequent generations of the Bell family tried to 
discover the fate of the portrait of their ancestor. The 
painting had not been photographed at the Christie's 
sale in 1911, however, and it has not been illustrated 
in monographs about the artist. Neither family nor 
scholar was able to link the portrait by Gainsborough in 
Raleigh with the copy by Richards in Thirsk until 1990, 
when contemporary artist Graham Rust, a mutual friend 
of John Bell and the author, provided the connection 
and the correct identity of the sitter as Ralph Bell was 

The portrait of Bell is one of the few male, 
full-length, Bath-period Gainsborough portraits in 
America. 2 4 It comes from the time when Gainsborough 
was in many ways at his most inventive, and it provides 
an important link between other preeminent British 
portraits in the North Carolina Museum of Art such as 
Van Dyck's Lady Villiers with Charles Hamilton, Earl 
of Arran, and Sir Henry Raeburn's Earl of Kinnoull. 2 ^ 

Hugh Belsey is Curator at Gainsborough's House, 
Suffolk, England. 



Commissioned in 1772 by Ralph Bell, Esq., Thirsk Hall, North 
Yorkshire; thence by family descent to Reginald Bell, Esq., until 
1897; Q. H. Ward, London, 1897]; [Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., 
London 1897-1901]; [Forbes & Paterson, London, 1901]; Norman 
Forbes Robertson, London; his sale, Christie, Manson, and 
Woods, 19 May 1911, lot 104, bt. Gilbert; John Scnmgeour, Esq., 
London; Scnmgeour family, by descent; sale, Sotheby's, London, 
20 May 1953, lot 95, bt. Croft; [Newhouse Galleries, New York]; 
acquired by the North Carolina Museum of Art from Newhouse, 

Select Exhibition 

London, The Grosvenor Gallery, 1885, no. 43. 
Select Bibliography 

Armstrong, W. Gainsborough and His Place in English Art. London, 
1898. 192. 

Waterhouse, E. "Preliminary check list of Portraits by Thomas 
Gainsborough," Walpole Society 1948-1950 33 (Oxford, 1953); 8. 

Valentiner, W. R. North Carolina Museum of Art: Catalogue of 
Paintings Including Tliree Sets of Tapestries . Raleigh, 1956. 55, no. 79. 

Waterhouse, E. Gainsborough. London, 1958. 54, no. 61; 100, no. 



I should like to thank Mr. Graham Rust for bringing the Richards 
copies of the Bell portraits to my attention, Mr. John Bell for his 
help and encouragement, and the staff of Northallerton Library, 
North Yorkshire Record Office; Bryan Crossling of the Bowes 
Museum, Barnard Castle; and Ann Bukantas of the Ferens Art 
Gallery, Hull. Finally my thanks to Anthony Janson who has 
generously provided me with photocopies of the contents of the 
files of the North Carolina Museum of Art. 

1. Bath Chronicle, il, no. 598 (Thursday, 2 April 1772). The 
announcement of Bell's arrival is repeated in Boddely's Bath Journal 
29, no. 14 (Monday, 6 April 1772). Miss Bell remains unidentified. 
A portrait, reputedly by Gainsborough, of a Miss Bell, is recorded 
as being lent to Hereford Art Gallery in April 1912 (no. 126) by 
Mr. W.J. Davies. However, no photograph is known of this 
painting, and the attribution must remain tentative (annotated 
copy of catalogue owned by Hereford Museum and Art Gallery; 
information kindly provided by Miss A. E. Sandford). 

2. Bell Papers, North Yorkshire Record Office, Northallerton, 
ZAG. Hereafter referred to as Bell Papers. 

3. Bell Papers. See Trevor Fawcett, "Eighteenth-Century Shops and 
the Luxury Trade," Bath History 3 (1990): 49-75. 

4. The date of the painting has been contentious. It acquired the 
date of 1778 when it was sold in 1953, and the 1778 date is repeated 
by John Hayes in his Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue (Thomas 
Gainsborough [1980]; 105-6). Sir Ellis Waterhouse's catalogue 
(Gainsborough [London, 1958]; references to paintings recorded in 
the Waterhouse catalogue are hereafter given the catalogue 
number preceded by the letter W) records the painting twice, first 
as the portrait of Ralph Bell (W61), which he dates: "probably 

middle 1770s," and second as "Full-length man holding snuffbox" 
(W770), which he suggests dates from the "Middle Bath Period." 
Waterhouse did not venture a date for the portraits of Mr. and 
Mrs. Bell in his earlier catalogue (E. K. Waterhouse, "Preliminary 
check list of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough," Walpole Society 
1948-1950 33 [Oxford, 1953]: 8). 

5. See John Hayes, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough 
(London, 1982), 1: 61-62. At Middleton Park Gainsborough 
painted both William, 3d Earl of Jersey (Clarendon Collection, 
W399) and his son Lord Villiers, later 4th Earl (last recorded with 
Howard Young in New York in 1936, W400). The portraits of 
Mr. and Mrs. Lee (W434 and W435) are last recorded at Christie's 
on 24 November 1922, lot 137 (purchased by Douglas), and in the 
Heathcote Art Foundation sale at Sotheby's New York on 15 
January 1987, lot 140. 

6. The Suckling portrait had been inherited by Lee's forebear Ann, 
Lady Lee, the niece of Van Dyck's sitter. The canvas left Hartwell 
in 1918 when it was purchased for the Frick Collection in New 
York where it remains to this day. See Tlte Frick Collection: An 
Illustrated Catalogue (New York, 1968), 1: 194-97; an d Malcolm 
Rogers, "The Meaning of Van Dyck's Portrait of Sir John 
Suckling," Burlington Magazine 120 (November 1978): 741-45. 

7. Oliver Millar, Van Dyck in England (London, 1982), 92, no. 52. 

8. W506, pi. 137; and W604, pi. 146, color pi. opp. p. 44, 
respectively. The Moysey portrait is published in Hugh Belsey, 
The Moysey Family (Sudbury, 1984), no. 7; and the Schomberg 
is the subject of an article by David Bomford, Ashok Roy, and 
David Saunders, "Gainsborough's Dr. Ralph Schomberg," 
National Gallery Technical Bulletin 12 (1988): 44-57. 

9. X-rays of the Moysey painting show that Gainsborough made 
dramatic alterations to the composition. The sitter's right leg 
originally passed in front of his left leg, and his right foot rested on 
a rock. The original composition had affinities with Benjamin 
Wilson's Portrait of Charles, 9th Viscount Irwin, c. 1752-58 (Temple 
Newsam House, Leeds; Elizabeth Einberg, Manners and Morals 
[London, 1987, 217, no. 210) and Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of 
Philip Gelt, 1763 (Private collection; Nicholas Penny, Reynolds 
[London, 1986]: 172, 217-18, no. 50). There is no evidence that 
Gainsborough knew either composition, as neither was engraved. 
All three paintings look back to Van Dyck's Pembroke Family 
(Millar, 28), which of course Gainsborough painted from memory 
after he visited Wilton in 1764 (Marquess of Northampton, Casde 
Ashby; W1015). 

10. Enough is known of Gainsborough's working method through 
contemporary references and extant unfinished works to 
understand something of his working practice. Dorothy 
Richardson in her diary entry for 7 May 1770 mentioned a 
number of portraits that "had only the faces completed, the 
Drapery [and presumably also the background] being unfinish'd" 
(Hugh Belsey, "A Visit to the Studios of Gainsborough and 
Hoare," Burlington Magazine 129 [February 1987]: 108). The Portrait 
of 4th Earl of Abingdon (private collection; W8, pi. 188) continues 
this method. It is close enough to the Portrait of Carl Frederick Abel 
(Henry E. Huntingdon Art Gallery, San Marino, Calif; Wi, pi. 
171) for us to propose a date of c. 1777, the year Gainsborough 
exhibited the Abel portrait at the Royal Academy. 

n. William Grainge, The Vale of Mowbray: A Historical and 

Topographical Account of Thirsk and Its Neighbourhood (London, 
1859): 71-72. 


12. Bell Papers. 

13. Ibid. 

14. All the accounts cited are Bell Papers. 

15. For Carr's career see John Bradshaw and Ivan Hall, John Carr of 
York, Architect 1/23-180/, (Hull, 1973); and A Biographical Dictionary 
of British Architects 1600-1840, (Oxford, 1978), s. v. "Carr, John." 

16. There are records of Henderson working between 1755 and 
1787, and like Carr he was based in York. However, he may not 
have come from the immediate vicinity. There are records of him 
training a number of apprentices in the mid-i76os including 
William Holliday, Thomas Nicholson, and his son Thomas 
Nicholson, all of whom could have assisted at Thirsk. See 
Geoffrey Beard, Decorative Plastcnvork in Great Britain (London, 
1975): 223-24. 

17. Gainsborough probably charged 100 guineas for both the portrait 
of Mrs. Bell and that of her husband. Gainsborough increased his 
charges for a full-length portrait from 80 guineas to 100 guineas 
sometime between 1770 and 1772 (Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 19). 
For an appraisal of portrait prices, see David Mannings, "Notes on 
Some Eighteenth-Century Portrait Prices in Britain," British 
Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 6 (1983): 185-96. 

18. Bell Papers. The inventory of 1822 records the Bell portraits in 
the dining room with a large hunting scene by John Fernley. The 
only possible arrangement for the portraits is the one proposed. 
Like the Bell canvases, a similar pair of full-length portraits, those 
of Lord and Lady Howe (Earl Howe Collection, W386; and the 
Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, W387, pi. 88) cannot strictly be called 
pendants. An alternative interpretation of the evidence put 
forward by Anne French can place as much as three years between 
the two paintings (The Earl and Countess Howe, ed. Anne French 
[Kenwood, 1988], 19-20). 

19. Notes and Queries, 3d ser., 9 (6 January 1866): 9-10. 

20. Interestingly, the portraits were not displayed as a pair. The 
portrait of Ralph Bell was no. 43, that of his wife no. 200. The 
exhibition brought them to Sir Walter Armstrong's attention. 
He included them in his cursory catalogue (Armstrong, 
Gainsborough, 192). 

21. I am grateful to Christopher Kingzett of Thomas Agnew & Sons 
for providing me with this information. 

22. The full-size copies of the portraits remain at Thirsk Hall. They 
are both inscribed on the back: "Stephen Richards/Fitzroy 
Square/ London Wi/ January 1898." Richards first appears as 

a "picture restorer" at 27 Great Pulteney Street in the Post Office 
London Commercial Directory (London, 1885), 1216. In 1888 he 
moved to 1 Sherwood Street, Golden Square (1888 Directory, p. 
1250), two years later to 4 Bemers Street (1890 Directory, p. 1271); 
and in 1897 to 16 Fitzroy Street (1897 Directory, p. 1381). In 1902 his 
premises were taken over by Evans and Mucklow, who also 
described themselves as picture restorers (1902 Directory, p. 408). 

23. The portrait of Mrs. Bell was separated from that of her husband 
at the 1911 sale. The provenance for her portrait is given by 
Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 54, no. 62. By descent to Reginald Bell 
(1848-1921); with Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd., November 1897; 
with Forbes & Paterson, May 1901; Norman Forbes-Robertson 
sale, Christie's, 19 May 1911, lot 103, bt. Asher Wertheimer; Alfred 
H. Mulliken (1854-1931); his posthumous sale, American Art 

Association, Anderson Galleries, New York, 5 January 1933, lot 52, 
bt. Sickles; Mrs. William Fox sale, Gimbels, New York, 2 
December 1942, lot 84, bt. in; anonymous [late Mrs. Eva Fox] 
sale, Christie's, 20 November 1964, lot 180, bt. in; sold privately 
to the present owner's father, February 1965. 

24. The "Duveen" taste for female portraits between 1900 and 1920 
provided collections in the United States with more full-length 
portraits of women than of men. Other than the Bell portrait, ten 
male full-length portraits by Gainsborough are presently recorded 
in public collections in the United States: Lt. -General Philip 
Honywood on Horseback, completed 1765, John and Mable Ringling 
Museum of Art, Sarasota; Lord Rivers, completed 1769, Cleveland 
Museum of Art; Jonathan Buttall "Tlie Blue Boy, " completed 1770, 
Henry E. Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, Calif; Lord 
Ligonier, completed 1771, Henry E. Huntington Art Gallery, San 
Marino, Calif; Sir William Johnston-Pulteney, c. 1772, Yale Center 
for British Art, New Haven; John Eld, c. 1772, Museum of Fine 
Arts, Boston; John Heathcote, c. 1772-74, National Gallery of Art, 
Washington, D.C.; Carl Frederick Abel, completed 1777, Henry E. 
Huntington Art Gallery, San Manno, Calif; Duke of Hamilton, c. 
1778, Detroit Institute of Arts; John Langston, 1787, Minneapolis 
Institute of Arts. 

25. See E. P. Bowron, ed., North Carolina Museum of Art: 
Introduction to the Collections (Raleigh. 1983), 126, 138. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin. Volume XV, 1991 


Technical Notes on Gainsborough's Ralph Bell 

David C. Goist 

A full appreciation and understanding of Thomas 
Gainsborough's Ralph Bell has been obscured in recent 
history by its present appearance (fig. i). Speculation that 
the painting had been badly abraded by harsh treatment 
and that its dark brown tonality is due to discolored 
varnish led to the decision to perform a technical study 
on the portrait. To answer questions about its condition, 
and to support curatorial research on the painting, the 
study was begun in 1990 (Goist). 

The study consisted of infrared photography, 
ultraviolet-produced visible fluorescence photography, 
x-radiography, pigment analysis with a polarizing-light 
microscope, and study of paint and ground cross- 
sections. Extant technical studies on Gainsborough's 
painting materials and techniques were also reviewed. 
Of particular interest was a comparison with the Portrait 
of Dr. Ralph Schomberg (National Gallery, London) (fig. 
4, p. 47), which was also painted by Gainsborough in 
Bath between 1771 and 1774, around the time of the 
1772 Bell portrait. Both portraits are painted in oil on 
canvas and are almost identical in size. Gainsborough's 
painting materials and techniques as well as the con- 
dition of the Schomberg portrait are discussed in a 1988 
National Gallery Technical Bulletin article (Bomford, Roy, 
and Saunders, 44-57). 

In creating a painting, the artist's first step is to apply 
a ground, or priming, layer to the canvas. Traditionally, 
most ground layers are of white pigments bound in 
linseed oil or glue. At various periods in the history of 
art, painters have experimented with toned grounds, 
either by adding colored pigments to the priming or by 


Fig. i 

Thomas Gainsborough (1717-1788), 
Ralph Bell, 1772. 
Oil on canvas, 92X x 6i/s in. 
North Carolina Museum of Art. 
Purchased with funds from the 
State of North Carolina and the 
North Carolina Art Society 
(Robert F. Phifer Bequest). 52.9.70 

applying a thin wash of color called an imprimatura over 
a white ground. Double, toned grounds were widely 
used by artists in the eighteenth century: Jean Simeon 
Chardin's Still Life with Ray Fish and a Basket of Onions 
(1731), Luis Egidio Melendez's Still Life with Game 
and Still Life with Grapes (c. 1760-80), and Jean-Baptiste 
Perronneau's Portrait of a Lady (1768) are four examples 
in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art. 

The ground on Ralph Bell's portrait also consists 
of two layers. Polarizing-light microscopy shows the 
lower one to be off-white in color, composed of white 
lead and calcium carbonate. The upper layer is dull pink 
and, because of its thickness and opacity, should be 
considered a second ground rather than an imprimatura. 
The double ground layer was found in five out of seven 
cross-sections sampled from various areas of the Bell 
portrait. The Schomberg portrait also has a priming of 
lead white and calcium carbonate, but rather than a 
thick second layer, a thin brown imprimatura was applied 
on top of the white ground (Bomford, Roy, and 
Saunders, 57). 

An artist will often sketch the outline of the essen- 
tial composition in charcoal or ink before painting the 
image. Although no underdrawing was detected by 
infrared photography in the Bell portrait, the edges 
of the sitter's form seem to have been adjusted in many 
areas, especially the legs and arms, during the painting 
process. It is likely that Gainsborough began the portrait 
by loosely outlining his subject in very diluted dark 
paint. The artist used this same underdrawing technique 
in two unfinished paintings — Painter's Daughters with Cat 
(National Gallery, London) and The Housemaid (Tate 
Gallery, London). 

All of the samplings of paint and ground cross- 
sections indicate that the paint layer is very thin com- 
pared to the thick double ground. Even at its thickest, 
in the flesh in the face or the foliage on the tree at the 
right, for example, the paint is no more than one-half 
the thickness of the top dull-pink ground layer. It is 
possible that the paint layers have been reduced in thick- 
ness due to past harsh cleaning treatments, an unfor- 
tunate circumstance found in too many old paintings. 
However, research indicates that Gainsborough inten- 
tionally painted the Bell portrait very thinly, permitting 
the tone of the top dull-pink ground to show through as 
a middle tone. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin. Volume XV, 1991 

Fig. 2 

X-radiograph of Ralph Bell (detail). 

Fig- 3 

X-radiograph of Clement Tudway (detail) 

J 6 

The study of the Schomberg portrait describes 
Gainsborough's oil-painting technique as having "a 
greater affinity with the traditional water colour 
technique of thin transparent washes over a light- 
coloured ground." (Bomford, Roy, and Saunders, 47). 
It also notes an observation by the artist's contemporary 
Ozias Humphrey that Gainsborough painted in a very 
dim, candle-lit studio. "The logic behind this practice 
seems to have been that subdued and directed lighting 
allowed Gainsborough to visualize and map out the 
main forms, contours and tones more easily" (Bomford, 
Roy, and Saunders, 44). When viewed today under 
subdued light (5-10 footcandles) rather than under the 
brighter lighting (20-plus footcandles) in the North 
Carolina Museum of Art galleries, the thinness of the 
paint becomes much less noticeable and the forms and 
color planes become more legible. 

In x-radiographic studies of several heads painted 
by Gainsborough, one can sense the artist creating forms 
and shaping them with thin, diluted oil paint. The head 
of Ralph Bell was x-radiographed for comparison with 
Gainsborough's portrait Clement Tudway, c. 1772, also 
in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art 
(figs. 2 and 3). The thinly painted faces of Bell and 
Tudway are composed of abbreviated yet confident 
strokes and gestures. In both portraits, the hair was 
created by a series of energetic diagonal brushstrokes, 
not unlike the technique of a watercolorist. 
Gainsborough did not develop his images in a method- 
ical and academic process. Rather, he seems to have 
thrust paint onto the canvas, applying only enough to 
achieve the effect he intended. A good example is the 
bold dash of paint highlighting Bell's right eye, which 
carries the subject's mood — as well as the artist's style — 
across a room. Gainsborough was masterful in applying 
just enough pigment to summarize his forms (whether it 
be Bell's coat of Prussian blue or the foliage created of 
Naples yellow and blue), while allowing his ground to 
show through, serving as a unifying middle tone for the 
entire composition. Just as with the brown imprimatura 
in the Schomberg portrait, the subdued pink upper 
ground of the Bell portrait unifies sky, earth, and sitter. 

In addition to the variance in light levels, there is 
another factor that prevents today's viewer from seeing 
the painting as it appeared in Gainsborough's day. Artists 
traditionally have used varnish to achieve full color 
saturation of the pigments as well as to protect the 

painting's surface. The cross-sections of paint and 
ground in Ralph Bell also reveal a layer of discolored 
varnish that is thicker than the paint itself. This coating 
was probably applied by a dealer shortly before the 
Museum acquired the painting in 1952. Based on 
fluorochrome staining of the cross-sections under 
ultraviolet light, the varnish is probably of the alkyd-oil 
type, which becomes very discolored after forty to fifty 
years. The varnish, now a yellow-brown, destroys the 
delicate tonal balance intended by Gainsborough, 
shifting the pink ground to a darker tone and making 
the image murky. Beneath the varnish, the sky at center 
left is actually a white to light gray, composed of two 
extremely thin layers of paint. The fact that it was 
applied unevenly with vertical brush strokes accentu- 
ates the canvas weave texture in the clouds at the left. 

David Goist is Chief Conservator, North Carolina 
Museum of Art. 


Bomford, David, Ashok Roy, and David Saunders. "Gainsborough's 
'Dr. Ralph Schomberg'." National Gallery Technical Bulletin 12 (1988): 

Goist, David. "Examination Report, Ralph Bell." Unpublished study, 
North Carolina Museum of Art, 1990-91. 

North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XV, 1991 


All photographs of works in the collection of the North 
Carolina Museum of Art were provided by the owners or 
custodians of the works indicated in the captions. The following 
list applies to photographs for which a separate or additional 
acknowledgment is due. 

Archivio Fotografico Soprintendenza Beni Artistici e Stonci 
di Roma: p. 17, fig. 6 

Art Gallery of Ontario: p. 15, fig. 3 

Fotodienst, Rijksmuseum: p. 21, fig. 11 

Soprintendenza per 1 Beni Artistici e Storici, Milan: p. 18, fig. 7 
Ville de Nantes — Musee des Beaux- Arts, Patrick Jean: p. 9, fig. 6 

This publication is supported by a grant from the Samuel H. 
Kress Foundation. Additional support is provided by the 
Newington-Cropsey Foundation as part of their ongoing 
educational programming. 

The North Carolina Museum of Art is an agency of the Depart- 
ment of Cultural Resources, State of North Carolina. Operating 
support is provided through state appropriations and generous 
contributions from the private sector, including individuals, 
foundations, and businesses. Private funds are administered by 
the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.